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Thread: Pokemon Revolution: Advent Phoenix (Rated T)

  1. #251
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    Damn my post didn't go through.

    Anyway, the gist of my failed post was the awesomeness of the chapter.

    If I remember correctly, my favourite parts of the chapter were the whole infiltration of the Devon Corp building and Travis making Ludwig Soebridel poo his armor clad pants.

    Not forgetting the resurgance of 'Madeliro' my new name for the couple in question. plus it makes them sound like a crime fighting duo.

    The whole not revealing their identities until the end but making it blaringly obvious that its them and the marius reunion was great writing, took me a while to figure it out, when I saw red hair I started to think relative of Flannery or something, but when brunette came into it, then I got all excited and exclaimed, yay, half involuntarily.

    Anyway, its only Nate and Avril (I almost called her anvil) that need to make a reappearance and it'll all be happening.

    This is Diddy reporting for the Serebii fanfic section news
    Skogsrå

    Gardenia never liked the Old Chateau, but what if the Old Chateau liked her?

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  2. #252
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    This is definitly the best fic that I have ever read.I love the sword fight scenes. and the pokemon battles are awsome.

    This fic is better than many published books that I have read.

    I can't wait for the next chapter.

  3. #253
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    Well, well. Shiro and Madeline return. Hopefully Travis and Katrina will catch up in time, otherwise everyone will be seperated.

    I liked the scene in Devon. It was really funny.

    That's all I got to say, I guess.

    ~xXPorygonXx

  4. #254
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    Just a random thought that occured to me at work.

    How do you portray the characters of PRJ/PRAP.

    Personnally I see Travis as some kind of highly detailed manga style character (becuase it's all animated in my mind) especially so in fight scenes. The hair is spikyish but not uber so just kind of untame reaching down his back in a ponytail. I also think hes wearing a brown cloak with blue shirt and pants. He never changes clothes.

    Katrina is less detailed however. Has anyone ever watched this programme on cartoon network (this was a while ago I assure you, and my little brother was obsessed with CN) forgot what it was called but there were two female japanese rock stars and there was one with pink hair. however I imagine her like that but more human.

    Shiro is like Spike (from ape escape) except without the blonde bit at front. obviously the guy would be taller and have more punkish type clothes on.

    Whereas Madeline is actually in real life, or maybe extreme artistic likeness. maybe becuase her whole style is something I see a lot around where I live.

    Well just something I thought of and wanted to get everyone elses opinion. Especially our host to see if any of us were right in our presumptions.
    Skogsrå

    Gardenia never liked the Old Chateau, but what if the Old Chateau liked her?

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  5. #255
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    I think of them all in real life most of the time, but sometimes I think of them in anime, like when one of them seatdrops. I think of the hulking muscular guys in an American cartoonish, way almost like a gorilla.

  6. #256
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    Feh...you're kind of close-ish, but one thing is driving me up a wall, frankly.

    Everyone, TRAVIS' HAIR IS IN A BRAID IN THE BACK.

    Travis is Duo Maxwell (Gundam Wing) with blue hair, except that his fringe is off to one side more or less, almost emo-style, except for spiky.

    Katrina looks like Mimi from Digimon season 02 without the stars in her head, and her hair isn't quite as poofy.

    Shiro's hair is (now) a bit like Maxi's from the Soul Calibur series.

    Madeline's hair is dark brown, shaped like Orihime's from BLEACH, but two of her frontmost streaks of hair are bleached white-blond.

    Nate's hair is jet black and looks most like Ashido from BLEACH, except for that long bang in the middle of his forehead.

    Well, I'm back at school and already knee-deep in it. Might be a few days or so before I manage to get one up.

    - EM1
    Last edited by EonMaster One; 16th January 2008 at 3:25 AM.

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  7. #257
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    Default Chapter 26

    Sorry about the bad chapter name - I couldn't really think of another one.

    Fans of PRJ will like this chapter.

    I had a long explanation for this chapter (kind of a 'where are they now?' kind of thing), but Serebii went gay on me, so, I'll just let you guys enjoy the chapter.

    Chapter 26: Act Two


    June 28, PA 2013 – Rustboro City


    Elrik, as was his habit, watched from atop the cliff as his soldiers tore down camp and began to file into their respective units. There was still a part of him that couldn’t believe that he was doing this. He had no idea how Rustboro would receive him. One thing was for certain – he would probably never equal the popularity of his father. Some leaders are irreplaceable; and King Elvanan was one of them.

    Edgar was probably aware of that. Elrik wondered if it was that fact that caused Edgar to rule Hoenn with an iron fist? Did he want to become a king in his own right even at the expense of the people? Was he simply trying to make Hoenn known and feared for its military strength? He was probably concerned that other nations saw Hoenn as weak…that had been Edgar’s worry for years…


    2008 – Sootopolis City

    Elrik sat in his chair poring over a book, as Edgar paced the room (which was a library and therefore laden with bookshelves some eight feet high), fuming.

    “I can’t believe Father allowed this!” he snarled, his violet eyes boring dangerously into the ones of his younger brother, and his sleek, black hair falling at his shoulders. Elrik peered over his book and his spectacles and observed his twin.

    “A treaty with the Twin States?” Eighteen-year-old Elrik replied calmly. “I think it’s a good idea.”

    “I won’t deny that it’s kept the Twin States off our back for the last few decades, but at what cost?” Edgar asked. “Mark my words, Elrik – sooner or later they’ll be asking for tribute, and if I’m king when that happens, that’s when I’ll put my foot down.”

    “Asking for tribute? Aren’t you blowing this a little bit out of proportion, Edgar?” Elrik asked coolly. “The Twin States are interested in trading with Hoenn. Each continent has things the other doesn’t – materials, culture…even some species of Pokémon.”

    “Where do the Pokémon fit into this?” Edgar asked. “They’re living creatures, sure, but they’re below us.”

    Behind his book, Elrik cracked a smile that Edgar still saw.

    “What’s so funny?” Edgar questioned loudly. “It’s true, right? Pokémon that aren’t wild are controlled by humans!”

    “Only as far as a Pokémon’s own loyalty takes it,” Elrik said. “Most Pokémon choose to obey their masters, if they have good ones.”

    “What would you know about being a good master?” Edgar asked.

    “Haven’t you listened to anything Father’s ever said to you?” Elrik replied. “‘You have to know that those under you are your charge, and you have to protect and lead them. But they have to know that you have their best interests at heart. If they know that, they will follow you with few questions.’”

    “That was last year, when we both turned seventeen – of course I remember that conversation,” Edgar commented. With a smirk, he added, “Father’s radical ideal of democratic monarchy – that strips all the power away from the king!”

    “Power – military or otherwise – isn’t everything, Edgar,” Elrik answered. “I think Father’s vision would make it easier for a king to know that he’s making the right decision.”

    “I think it sounds like the kingdom telling the king what to do instead of the other way around,” Edgar replied.

    “I never said the king wouldn’t have the final say,” Elrik replied. “What doesn’t work is when the king has the only say. That’s called ‘totalitarianism’.”

    “There you go again with that loaded language you love so much,” Edgar muttered, rolling his eyes. “I never said that I wanted ‘totalitarianism’. I just don’t want ‘anarchy’.”

    Elrik smiled again.

    “It’s funny you should mention that,” he said, holding up the burgundy book he was reading. “‘A pendulum will only swing so far in one direction as it already has in the other. So, it seems, is the rule of men. A king lax with his authority can look forward to chaos down the road, but woe to the king with the iron fist, for he will find his hand melted and deformed by the flames of rebellion.’”

    “Who is that?” Edgar approached Elrik. “Who wrote that?”

    “Our grandfather – your idol – King Valorian,” Elrik replied, a glint visible in his eye behind his wiry, half-moon spectacles. “He’s the one that started the Triangle Conflict fiasco – that disastrous war where we lost nearly eight thousand men needlessly, all because our kingdom at the time didn’t see the value and importance of these alliances and peace treaties that you think are so ‘weak’.”

    Edgar remained silent.

    “Not an iron fist to strike them, but an open hand to lead them,” Elrik said. “I hope you remember that.”

    “You’ve always been too soft, Elrik,” Edgar said. “The only time I ever thought you’d show any backbone was five years ago, when –”

    “I thought we agreed,” Elrik said loudly, his light violet eyes flashing, “never to talk about that again. It does us no good as brothers, and if we fight, we dishonor our father and the kingdom.”

    “Father would be a fool to select you as his successor if you can’t even stick up for…” Edgar muttered to himself. “But I bet he will, because you’re just like him.”

    With that, Edgar stormed out of the library, slamming the door behind him.

    “That’s the difference between us,” Elrik sighed. “I could live without being king if I had to.”


    And it was true…if Edgar had taken his advice and been a more moderate ruler, Elrik could in good conscience live out the rest of his days as nothing more than a Prince or an advisor. But Elrik wasn’t taking back his kingship for himself…he was taking it back for Hoenn. In his old age, Valorian had seen the error of his ways, and wished for no one else to commit the same faults that he did; and it seemed that Edgar, in his present mindset, could take no other road.

    “Your sword,” a woman’s voice alerted him to her presence. A young woman in her early twenties with blonde, curly hair was holding out a new sword for him, with a slightly longer blade judging by the sheath length. Elrik took it from her.

    “Thanks, Ivanna,” he said, cracking her a smile and beginning his march down the cliff.

    “Hey, wait a second. Elrik…” Ivanna ran up to him from behind and clasped the hand holding his sword with one of her own hands. “You don’t look like yourself today. What’s going on?”

    “I’ve just…got a lot on my mind. That’s all,” Elrik muttered to her.

    “Why do you do that?” Ivanna asked.

    “What?” Elrik answered as if he hadn’t done anything.

    “Shut me out like this,” Ivanna answered. “I want to be there for you.”

    “But you are,” Elrik said. “You’ve been fighting for me and leading the army for as long as –”

    “You know that’s not what I mean,” Ivanna interrupted, applying a slight shake to Elrik’s hand. “You haven’t talked to me since yesterday evening. What’s going on – are you having second thoughts about…us?”

    “I’m having second thoughts about a lot of things,” Elrik confessed.

    “Why?” Ivanna asked with one of the most pained tones in her voice that Elrik had ever heard.

    Elrik sighed.

    “I’m not a fighter, Ivanna,” he explained. “Now that everyone knows I’m alive, civil war is right around the corner. If there’s fighting…you’re the one that’s going to end up protecting me. And if it all goes wrong – if I make a bad decision…or even if I do make a good decision…someone’s going to die. That’s what war is, essentially – two groups of people beating on each other over something until one can’t go on.”

    He turned around and looked at Ivanna. There was something in his eyes that seemed to be begging her to make the whole thing stop – to wake him up and tell him it was a bad dream.

    “I don’t belong here,” he said mournfully.

    Ivanna approached him slowly. Somehow, Elrik knew what was coming next, and a strange sort of reflex nearly caused him to back away. Ivanna went through with it, but it was clear that she had seen Elrik flinch, judging by her facial expression. He went to look away from her, but she quickly used one hand to guide his eyes into hers. She was wearing this pitying little smile as she caressed his face.

    I love you and I want to help, but you’re not letting me.

    “I believe in you,” she said simply. “And all those people down there? They believe in you, too…they wouldn’t be here otherwise.”

    She patted Elrik on the shoulder and walked past him. They both understood that now was not the best time to while away the days in romance. There would be time for that…perhaps when things settled down a bit.

    A kind word…

    A moment stolen for a kiss here or there…

    That was what would have to sustain their secret, fledgling relationship…

    At least for now.

    June 29, PA 2013


    The cashier – a young, athletic-looking man of about nineteen with surfer hair somewhere between light brown and blond – counted the coins carefully.

    “400…420…440.” he muttered. Crouching behind himself, he picked up a package and placed a pen atop it. “I take it you brought your signature with you, too, right?”

    The boy opposite him was a mature-looking fifteen or so, about five-foot-nine with a slightly windswept mane of hard, black hair. He was wearing a black, button-down shirt with short sleeves and khaki shorts. Resting directly on the top of his chest (if the boy was wearing an undershirt at all, the cashier couldn’t see it) was a necklace with a white, teardrop-shaped charm that seemed to have a eye of stark black toward its center. He also had on semi-reflective shades that he hadn’t bothered to remove upon stepping inside the building, which (truth be told) was so bright that the cashier wasn’t really able to blame him.

    The black-haired teenager took the pen and, in an untidy scrawl, signed his name to the tablet already on the desk, after which he placed the pen neatly atop the tablet so that the cashier could easily collect both.

    “Thanks a lot, Jeff,” the boy said, raising his hand in salute.

    “Anytime, dude,” Jeff said, raising his hand in the same manner. “So long as you’ve got the fee, anyways. Tell the prof I said hi.”

    “Will do,” the black-haired boy answered with a smile, looking over his shoulder.

    “Oh, and by the way…” the cashier started. The boy, who was already standing at the doorway (which had been left ajar to let in the sun and beautiful sea breeze) turned his head again. “If the good doctor’s gonna be ordering anything else from Hoenn, tell him he might want to send you with a full five hundred next time. From what I heard, things are gettin’ pretty gnarly overseas, and only the Almighties know what that’s gonna do to S&H prices, ya know?”

    “I’ll keep that in mind, Jeff,” the boy said. “Thanks again.”

    He backed out of the building and turned himself around once he was outside. He walked past mailbox after mailbox (for he had just exited a post office), looking over the pier to the small harbor, where several boats were moored, floating in the sparkling water.

    He closed his eyes and sighed.

    “Something wrong, Nate?” a lively girl’s voice awoke him from his daydream. The boy opened his eyes and squinted – yes, squinted. She was so incredibly beautiful at times, with her silvery-blonde hair, silver irises, and bright face, that looking at her form silhouetted by sunlight was as overwhelming on the eyes as staring into the Sun itself.

    In any case, looking at her sometimes seemed to involve wrapping his mind around everything that had happened to him in the last month.

    A month ago, he had been sailing the seas of Hoenn, wondering how he was ever going to live his life without the girl standing in front of him.

    Two weeks ago, he had returned…and found her waiting for him. Just when he was about to figure out how to live his life with her gone, he found that she wasn’t.

    One week ago, he had been looking for something to do, so he went calling (with her in tow, of course) at his cousin’s lab and practically applied for a job there on the spot. To his great surprise, the Professor had given it to him. It was his job to take care of the many Pokémon in the fields, some captured by the Professor himself, but most left by Trainers.

    Now, he was in Cherrygrove City, picking up a package that the Professor had ordered from Hoenn.

    Essentially, Nathaniel Elm and Avril Pennington had been going out for less than a month. But they quickly realized that they were a couple with that special quality that made them fit each other like a glove. Nate’s eyes drifted to the charm on Avril’s necklace, located about four inches below her exposed collarbone. It also had a tear-drop shape, but it was upside-down, with a white core surrounded by black – the complete mirror image of Nate’s. She was wearing this royal blue tank top with these peculiar, white spaghetti straps that looked like they belonged on a slightly bigger outfit – instead of wrapping snugly around her shoulder blades, they fell lazily around the shoulders themselves. In fact, several loops of the same material were located at the bottom of the shirt and fell down slightly past her waist, giving her the look of a fairy spreading her wings – or maybe even a butterfly.

    His eyes, nevertheless, found themselves on the other necklace. The two charms were more than sisters – they were two halves of a whole, and each completed the other.

    Each completed the other.

    “Nate?” the girl called again.

    “Oh…” he uttered, snapping back to reality. He smiled.

    Normally, when you’re thinking good thoughts, coming back to reality is a bit of a letdown. In his case, though, he stayed practically where he was.

    “You’re always spacing out,” Avril commented, grabbing hold of Nate’s hand. “Weren’t we supposed to go look at guitars today before we went back?”

    “Yeah, that’s right,” Nate replied. “Alright, let’s go.”

    They started down the road overlooking the beach, hand in hand. Nate’s maroon eyes peered past Avril’s seraphic face down toward the tan sands of the Cherrygrove shore. As was predictable for this time of year, the beach was nearly groaning under the feet of hundreds of tourists and townspeople. They approached the eastern side of the beach, where the sea of grass was broken now by the occasional palm tree, and Nate stopped.

    Through the heat waves, he could almost see the image. A boy with wild, blue hair stood on one side, directing a rather plain-looking creature with fur the color of a latte with creamer. Its protuberant ears stuck out from its head, which bore brown eyes and a compact face something like that of a rabbit. A thick ruff of dense, cream-colored fur surrounded its neck, although this fur was slightly dirty from contact with the sand.

    A few feet away, facing toward them, was a boy with jet-black hair and an expensive-looking outfit. Standing at his feet and ready to attack was a creature that essentially looked like a blue, bipedal gator. There was a golden stripe across its chest, and the spines that ran from the nape of its neck down to its tail were an angry crimson. Its mouth was open, revealing several fangs that all looked like the sharpest edges of swords.

    Toward the palm tree, a girl with pink hair looked on worriedly.

    A boy with brown hair stood behind the black-haired boy, distrustfully eyeing the two figures seemingly defying the Sun to bake them alive with their charcoal-colored cloaks and hoods.


    It had been a full two years since he had been back here.

    That was back when they were still children…when their lives were simple.

    The only enemies they had were the ones they made in their silly quarrels with each other.

    Things had changed…a lot of things.

    His father no longer cared if he joined the army. He’d seen enough of war.

    But something kept him uneasy…he had this strange feeling that, when he had quit Hoenn to be with his love, he had left something undone.

    Jeff’s words, businesslike and friendly though they were, swam around in Nate’s head.

    And that article…that newspaper article…

    “Nate…” Avril’s voice ripped into his daydream. His eyes focused open her face instead of trying to look past her. “…This place has bad memories for you, doesn’t it?”

    “Bad?” Nate replied. “No, not really ‘bad’…it’s just…this is where…sort of where everything started.”

    As they continued to walk, they heard a warm-sounding acoustic guitar being expertly plucked by…somebody.

    “Oh – someone’s playing guitar,” Avril commented. Now that she had her own hobbies and interests, finding anyone that shared those interests excited her. It didn’t take a lot of walking before they found him, sitting on a bench –

    Average height, probably right on the cusp of manhood – late teens or so. His mousy, brown hair was coarse and each strand of the myriad that flew out in several directions from the top of his head was straight as an arrow. His eyes were blue and seemed to reflect light from the sky. His only visible facial hair was a small, but thick soul patch trimmed neatly right below his lower lip.

    After watching him for a few moments, Nate had to ask.

    “Uh, excuse me…”

    The young man turned around and looked right up at Nate.

    “Yeah? Something you need?” he asked – but not in that sarcastic, “stop-staring-at-me-and-screw-off” kind of way.

    “I just had a question,” said Nate, gathering a bit of courage from not having the conversation forcefully cut short before it had the chance to begin. “About your guitar. Where’d you get it?”

    “Oh – this?” the young man held up his acoustic in one hand. “My dad runs a guitar shop here in town.”

    Nate and Avril shot each other a look, hardly daring to believe their fortune.

    (They had no idea how fortunate they were.)

    “You’re pretty good,” Avril commented. “How long have you been playing?”

    “Me? As soon as I was big enough to hold one,” the youth replied enthusiastically, standing up and crouching. He pulled a soft case out from under the bench and laid it on top, slipping his guitar inside. He looked straight at Nate. “So, you’re looking for a guitar for your girlfriend – is that it?”

    Avril giggled, partly because it had been the first time anybody had referred to her as Nate’s girlfriend besides Nate himself, and partly because this guy’s assumption was way off.

    “Actually, no,” Nate answered rather sheepishly. “It’s the other way around. She knows how to play guitar already.”

    “Really?” the young man asked.

    “Yeah – but you did get the ‘girlfriend’ part right,” Avril added amiably.

    “One for two isn’t bad, considering I’ve never met you guys before,” the young man said, slinging the guitar case over his shoulder. Nate immediately offered his hand.

    “I’m Nate Elm,” he said, as the young man took his hand and shook it. “Her name’s Avril Pennington. We’re both from New Bark Town.”

    It didn’t take long for the guitar-strumming dude to make the connection, and his eyes did the double-take that Nate had seen coming a mile away. Nate decided to head him off.

    “Yes, I’m related to the professor,” he added. “He’s my cousin…or first cousin, once removed if you want to be specific…”

    “Actually, he’s working for the professor and supposed to be getting that package back to him sometime today…” Avril explained. “But he wanted to see if he could find a guitar he liked…”

    “…And show Avril around, too,” Nate continued. “She’s never been here.”

    “Really? I could show you guys around if you like. I live here in Cherrygrove. I’m Tai Terrence,” the young man said. “So, what do you say we get going? Does the guitar store sound good first?”

    “Yeah, that works,” Nate replied, nodding. Tai strode past them toward a street leading north. Nate and Avril had to jog for a few steps to catch up, but they fell right in stride. Tai decided to strike up a conversation:

    “So, Nate, Avril, tell me…what kind of music are you guys into?”


    July 1, PA 2013 – North of Mauville City

    A loud sound of impact shattered the silence of the wilderness on Mauville City’s northern outskirts as two forms, silhouetted by the blazing, merciless Noontime Star, ricocheted off each other several feet off the ground.

    Skidding to a stop on one side was a vermilion-colored, rodent-like creature with a long, ropelike tail that ended in a crackling, ever-burning flame, swishing from side to side like a candle in the wind.

    The other’s landing was slightly less graceful, as he hit the ground, first with his verdant right shoulder and quickly rolled to his feet. Essentially a large, green gecko ornamented with long, thin leaves on portions of his body, it was he that was, on paper, supposed to be at a disadvantage.

    “Whoa, Champ!” Travis shouted worriedly. “You alright?”

    “<Flesh wound,>” the Grovyle grunted, looking at his Trainer out of the corner of one of his narrow, yellow eyes. “<Nothing to worry about…but why do I have to fight Amber? If I’ve got a weakness, it’s Fire-types.>”

    “That’s exactly why,” Travis explained. “Our next gym match is Flannery and she uses Fire-types.”

    “<But there’s a thousand Numel around here…>” Champ groaned. “<If Amber wins this, she’s never gonna let me hear the end of it…>”

    “<Are my feminine wiles too much for you, dear?>” the young Marhot crouched to the ground and batted her eyes flirtatiously.

    “<Does it look like I have antlers to you?>” Champ groaned in annoyance, stepping forward.

    “<Oh – fun-ny. Look, everyone – Champ’s got a sense of humor!>” Amber replied derisively, swishing her tail around. “<You’re just jealous because I’ve moved on.>”

    “<Yeah, good riddance,>” Champ muttered.

    Meanwhile, a girl sat on a rock under a tree, observing the battle, along with two quadrupeds sitting in front of her.

    “<Who’s she talking about?>” the black one – an Umbreon – asked. “<Surely not…Raiden?>”

    “<That’s the only one left, right?>” the Espeon sitting next to him replied. Raiden was a newer member of the team, a Voltyger with slight self-confidence issues. Angel had no idea why – he was faster than any Pokémon she’d ever seen. Raiden was still very shy around everyone else, but he had opened up to Amber a bit – a fact that the Marhot took to be a sign that he liked her.

    “<They’re not…together, are they?>” Crescent asked haltingly.

    “<She sure seems to think so,>” Angel answered, a huge sweatdrop floating beside her head.

    “<Like, can I finish him off already? He needs an attitude adjustment…>” Amber looked over her shoulder at the pink-haired girl directing her in battle.

    The girl nodded.

    “Amber, use Fireworks!” the girl shouted.

    “<Oh, damn it…>” Champ swore in his species tongue.

    “Well, don’t just stand there, move!!” Travis shouted. Champ jumped to the left just as a golden jet of flames came whizzing in and exploded inches away from Travis’ head. Uttering a loud yell, Travis swerved out of the way to avoid getting his right ear blasted off.

    “<Too close…>” Champ breathed out a puff of smoke in relief.

    “You’re tellin’ me,” Travis agreed, standing up straight again. “Use Quick Attack!!”

    Champ took off after Amber and knocked her off her feet.

    “<OWWW!>” Amber whined, rolling back to a standing position. “<Like, take it easy! I’m a lady, after all…>”

    “<You’re an opponent,>” Champ said simply. “<If you can hit, you’re fair game to be hit back.>”

    “<OHHH…you make me so mad sometimes!>” she growled, beginning to shine brightly. All in an instant, she erupted into a ball of flames.

    Crescent blinked dimly.

    “<Uh-oh,>” he said rather understatedly.

    “<‘Uh-oh’ is right,>” Angel muttered. “<Does anyone like their Grovyle extra crispy?>”

    “Amber, use Flame Wheel!” Katrina ordered. Amber began to run straight at Champ until she accelerated into a blur, leaving a long trail of flames behind her like a comet streaking along the ground.

    “<Whoa!>” Champ yelled, jumping into the air. “<I didn’t mean that to be personal!!>”

    Champ landed, heard a crackling sound behind him, and dove out of the way just as Amber came back for a return pass. Once she reached Katrina again, she whirled around and the flames around her exploded out of sight in a small puff of fire.

    “<Too slow,>” Champ rose to his feet, smirking. “<Good luck trying to roast the ‘C-Train’!>”

    “<Hey, C-Train!>” Angel shouted from the sideline. “<Your caboose is on fire.>”

    “<Wha?>” Champ turned around and looked at the fire quickly spreading from his tail to his backside.

    “<OH, ****!!!>”

    Amber was rolling around on the ground in laughter as Champ literally jumped twenty feet in the air, hands over his flaming fundament as Travis fumbled near his belt.

    “Meru, use Water Gun!!” in a flash of light, the Kitide appeared, seeing the fire immediately and shooting a jet of water right at the offending area.

    CRACK!

    Travis went googly-eyed as Champ went careening toward Amber, who had no time to get out of the way.

    Upon hearing the almighty crash that occurred next, Reivyn, Angel, and Crescent all stood up and looked in that direction, where there was now a cloud of dust.

    “<Wow…aggressive. If you want me back, just say so.>” Amber’s voice emerged from the settling cloud first. When it dissipated, it revealed a soaking-wet Champ lying limply over Amber, who was on her back.

    “<Amber….shut – the – hell – up,>” Champ’s response came in short stabs.

    “<Did I overdo it?>” Meru tilted her head at the sight, trying her level best to hold in a laugh.

    “<I don’t know – am I supposed to be on the ground, feeling like I just got hit by a ton of bricks?>” Champ asked.

    “<Don’t blame yourself, Meru,>” Amber said airily. “<He just can’t resist my charm.>”

    “<You’d better hope that there isn’t a Pokémon hell,>” Champ grumbled. “<If you say another word…>”

    “<You’ll do what?>” Amber threw Champ off herself and rolled to her feet. “<Face it – I just totally pwned you.>”

    Champ blinked.

    Meru blinked.

    Angel and Crescent blinked.

    “<Please don’t tell me that she just used ‘pwned’ in a sentence like it was a normal word,>” Angel remarked.

    A huge sweatdrop appeared by Crescent’s hopelessly shaking head.



    Night fell, and Travis and the others ended up setting up camp not too far from there in what was probably the last area with grass and trees for a few miles around (to their west was Mt. Chimney, and immediately to their east was the Sand of Khalid – there were no trees there, that was for sure). As had become their custom, they let out all the Pokémon to eat and to socialize that evening. Toward the center of the camp, Amber was cheerfully re-enacting the story of how she’d beaten Champ to Angel and Meru, who were listening intently and laughing (especially Meru).

    “<So he jumps up in the air, shouts a word I can’t repeat, and then starts running around, his hands on his butt. ‘MY AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSS! MY AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSS!’>” Meru erupted into raucous laughter at this point, and even Angel broke down into giggles.

    “<I told him to stay away from that spicy brand of Pokémon food he always eats,>” Meru commented, earning more laughs from Angel and Amber.

    “<We are not going there,>” Angel laughed.

    “<Hey – you know what?>” Amber said. “<I bet I could beat Arcus in a fight.>”

    “<I sure hope so – he’s an Ice-type,>” Angel commented.

    “<He might have it in his veins,>” Meru said through gritted teeth. “<Personally, I’d like to cut him open and see what he bleeds.>”

    “<Aren’t you just a ray of sunshine today?>” Angel asked sarcastically. “<What happened?>”

    “<I went to go say hi to him,>” Meru muttered.

    “<Did you get him to say anything?>” Amber asked. Arcus’ voice was a topic of fascination, as no one really heard it that much.

    “<Yeah – two words, actually,>” Meru said, looking none too happy about it.

    “<What were they?>” Amber asked.

    “<Well…>” Meru sighed and rolled her eyes. “<I can tell you this much. The second word was ‘off’, and the first one wasn’t nice at all.>”

    “<Oh…>” Amber shrunk into silence. “<Sorry I asked.>”

    “<No need for you to be sorry – he’s the sorry one,>” Meru replied airily.

    “<Oh…>” Amber repeated. “<Well…um…I’m gonna go. See ya!>”

    She ran off before anyone could even reply to her goodbye, leaving Meru alone with Angel.

    “<Did I mention that I think she’s cracked?>” Meru asked quickly.

    “<Oh, come on, Meru,>” Angel said. “<She’s not bad.>”

    “<I didn’t say she was bad…>” Meru muttered. “<Just a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic basket, that’s all.>”


    Amber crouched low, approaching her unsuspecting target. He was curled in a ball, sleeping. His electric-blue stripes were thrown into sharp relief by his sable coat of fur. Fangs he had, but looked to be in no mood to use them. There was a certain innocent cuteness about him. He just looked cuddly. Plus, he was different to be around than the others.

    Crescent was sometimes rather aloof. Not quite antisocial (like Arcus), but it would be days like these that he would run off somewhere with Angel or sit like a statue, staring at the moon. He always seemed to be reflecting on something, and while Angel had done a good job of leading him out of his shell a little bit, it wasn’t as easy for anyone else.

    Champ was competitive – sometimes overly competitive. He had run off into the trees the second he had been let out of his ball. Amber was only trying to have fun with him and make light of the situation. She guessed, looking from his point of view, it must have been rather embarrassing for him to not only lose a battle, but to experience having his best friend (who happened to be a girl) extinguish his burning posterior as he ran around in a painful panic. Champ was usually never that waspish or irritable, even with her.

    Speaking of backsides, Arcus needed to get his head out of his. Granted, this wasn’t exactly his type of weather. Arcus, being an Ice-type who had once made his home in some high mountains, wasn’t exactly a hot-weather kind of guy, and nestled between a desert and an active volcano, heat was the order of the day.

    But Raiden…Raiden was different. He was sweet, not overly macho, and though part of her wished he would stand up for himself a little bit more…

    “<Hi, Amber,>” a voice said calmly. The Marhot stopped and groaned.

    “<How’d you know it was me?>” she asked sincerely.

    “<I heard the fire on your tail,>” Raiden explained. “<Voltyger have a good sense of hearing.>”

    “<Oh,>” Amber uttered rather dimly. “<Um…so, tell me more about you.>”

    “<What’s there to tell?>” Raiden clawed the ground in front of him. “<I’m not very interesting.>”

    Amber sighed.

    “<You’re always down on yourself,>” she told him. “<I think you’re very nice.>”

    “<Oh, um, thanks…>” Raiden answered awkwardly.

    Amber sidled up to him. The cub-like creature looked up at her, not entirely sure what was going on with him. His face felt warm…but that was probably just Amber’s tail swishing around dangerously close to his head. His heart started beating a little bit faster. He didn’t really have a good reason for that and he wondered if Amber – and the rest of the world – heard it.

    “<Calm down,>” Amber muttered. She had walked around the tree behind him. A few seconds later, she emerged again on his right. By this time, he had sat up and was looking in her direction as she settled down next to him.

    There was silence.

    “<COCONUTS!!!>” Raiden jumped into the air momentarily. When he regained his composure, he looked at Amber as if she was a sight to behold. Amber looked like she’d done something horrible. “<Sorry, sorry…I’ve been trying really hard to keep that under control.>”

    Raiden just continued to stare at her…and laughed.

    Amber giggled slightly just to feel like she was being laughed with, and not laughed at.

    “<Why?>” he asked finally. “<That’s your personality, isn’t it?>”

    “<Yeah…>” Amber said, looking suddenly downtrodden – not at all like her bubbly, upbeat self. “<…It’s also the reason I don’t have many friends.>”

    “<I don’t have any friends,>” Raiden sighed.

    “<You don’t try to meet anybody,>” Amber answered. “<I’m sure everyone would like you if you gave them a chance. And if that doesn’t work…you’ve always got me.>”

    “<Hmm?>” Raiden seemed taken aback. Amber shifted closer to him. Her head tilted over onto his neck.

    Meanwhile, a needle of light cut through the clear night sky above them.

    “<Ooh!>” Amber whispered. “<Ooh, ooh, make a wish!>”

    Raiden stayed silent.

    “<Now, you just wait a while, and it’ll come true one day! Right?>” Amber explained enthusiastically.

    Raiden smiled.

    “<Yeah,>” he uttered. Amber noticed an ever-so-slight shift as he leaned against her.

    ~~~ *** ~~~

    “So, what’d you wish for?” Katrina asked. She and Travis were sitting against a tree, and both had seen the shooting star overhead. “Come on…you can tell me.”

    “World peace,” Travis replied sagely. Katrina laughed. Travis frowned. “No – seriously. If we didn’t have all these wars, my life would be a hell of a lot easier.”

    “How about something on a slightly smaller scale?” Katrina asked.

    “Well…talking to Shiro and Madeline again…” Travis sighed. “We haven’t seen them in so long. I sort of…I miss the good times we had together…before the war…”

    “I know how you feel,” Katrina answered, placing a comforting hand on his shoulder.

    “It was nice to talk to them again,” Travis admitted. “I was starting to think they’d…forgotten about me.”

    “Why would you say that?” Katrina questioned, justifiably sounding a little concerned.

    “They just took off after the war ended,” Travis said. “It’s almost like they tried to stay away from New Bark Town.”

    “At first, I think that it was that Shiro couldn’t bear to see you in that state – not when he couldn’t do anything about it. He’s still got that thing of wanting to fix people. So when he can’t fix somebody, he gets frustrated with himself,” Katrina explained. “After that, his dad died. I’m not sure he wants to go back to live in Blackthorn City just yet.”

    “Why not?” Travis asked.

    “Probably for the same reason you don’t,” Katrina answered. “He wants to be somewhere where he doesn’t need to think about what happened.”

    “It doesn’t work,” Travis said seriously, earning a questioning look from his girlfriend. He explained, “None of us are ever going to be able to forget what happened.”

    “I know, I know…” Katrina sighed. “We all have to move forward.”

    “Forward…that’s right,” Travis muttered, almost distractedly. He lay back with a soft thump as the back of his head hit the dry grass. “I have to move forward…”

    Katrina didn’t respond. Travis looked back up at her and saw the girl sitting with her knees pulled up around her face, almost as if she was trying to curl into a ball. He sat up again quickly, almost wasting five seconds wondering what to do. The way she was sitting was a sign of vulnerability – something that, for his sake, Katrina rarely showed.

    “What’s wrong?” he finally asked. She shook her head and, judging by a ragged gasp, seemed to be either crying or trying her level best not to.

    “It’s not that I don’t want you to be Champion, I really do – I really want you to be happy, but…” Katrina choked. “If you become the Champion, you’ll be busy signing autographs and having matches and you can bet that the Stone family will want you to be in commercials and that kind of stuff, and…and…”

    “And what?” Travis asked, now very concerned.

    “I’ll be nobody,” Katrina said. “You’ll be too busy for me…for us.”

    “Of course I won’t,” Travis said, trying to keep his voice down for her sake but nonetheless upset that Katrina would make such an accusation.

    “I appreciate you saying that, but…” Katrina sighed. “…but that’s your dream…and I’m just a person. You could even replace me if you wanted to.”

    “No,” Travis shook his head and repeated. “You’re right, becoming Champion is my dream…and I have a pretty good idea what would happen after. But…”

    He shifted over in Katrina’s direction, slowly sliding his arms around her.

    “When you first said you wanted to go out with me,” he said slowly, “I thought I was getting a really nice girl that happened to be incredibly beautiful on the outside – and I didn’t mind that. But I didn’t know…I didn’t know that you would save my life.”

    He raised his hand to the girl’s face, stroking it gently.

    “I couldn’t forget about you,” Travis said sincerely. “Without you, I wouldn’t be here.”

    Katrina threw herself upon him – grabbed onto the back of his shirt and dug her nails into his back a bit, almost like she was holding on for dear life. She leaned against him and he fell back. She landed, predictably, on top of him, and looked down into his eyes. She seemed to have regained control, and looked down at him sadly.

    “I’m sorry,” she said with a tearful giggle. “It’s just that…last year, you needed me so much.”

    “And you did so much – too much,” Travis replied. “You never took any time to do anything that could make you happy.”

    “I couldn’t be happy,” Katrina answered. “Not unless you were. And…I still feel the same way.”

    There was silence for a long moment.

    “Maybe…maybe you just need some rest,” Travis said finally.

    “Y-yeah,” Katrina stammered, finally allowing Travis to stand up. “That’s it.”

    “Sweet dreams,” Travis said, smiling fondly and then walking over to a nearby incline, where he’d had a blanket set up for himself as opposed to the heavy sleeping bag. He slipped under it, leaned his head against the soft grass, and closed his eyes.

    After a while, they opened – he just couldn’t go to sleep. He leaned up against a nearby tree and looked across the clearing. A face wreathed in pink hair looked back at him. Travis stood and crossed the camp, around the dying fire, past the sleeping Pokémon…and sat down next to her.

    “I love you – more than anything,” he declared, holding her close. “If I had to choose between being Champion and being with you…well, there is no choice.”

    “That’s reassuring,” Katrina said, leaning against him.

    That night, she fell asleep in his arms.

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  8. #258
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    May 2005
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    ~~~ *** ~~~


    She couldn’t quite see clearly. It was if she was looking through a translucent curtain. A sudden flood of refracted light told her that a door had been opened, either outside or into a very bright room. There was movement on either side of her as she advanced. It was if the walls had suddenly grown. She sensed eyes on her – hundreds, perhaps even a thousand – all upon her.

    She wondered why she seemed to be the focus of attention. It was a bit creepy, actually, all of these eyes on her. At least, she thought there were eyes on her.

    What was she wearing? She looked around herself, and saw nothing but a curtain of white. It felt as if someone was leading her by the arm.

    She continued to put one foot in front of the other. She felt a funny feeling in the pit of her stomach.

    Nervousness.

    Why was she nervous? What reason did she have to be nervous? Was she doing something very important?

    Music was playing in the background – she couldn’t quite make it out over the murmuring. There were definitely people around her, watching her – and, judging by the sound, quite a few of them.
    The hand leading her was gone.

    She felt like she could be – should be – happy about whatever was going on. But she was totally confused. Just what was going on? What was it that should bring her so much joy?

    She saw a strange shape…coming toward the curtain before her face.

    Hands?

    They were reaching…as if trying to free her from her prison of white.

    Whose hands were they?

    And what would she find…once the curtain was lifted?

    Who were the people?

    Who was she?

    Who would she become?

    The silky curtain lifted, and she saw…

    …A clearing.

    Last night’s fire had finally met its end in a pile of cooling ashes.

    Ashes.

    That was right – they had better get used to ashes. Today, they were to climb Mt. Chimney – an active volcano and an area replete with ashes.

    A strange kind of coldness seized her, almost as if a coat she had been wearing – something that had been covering her previously – was no longer there. She brushed her hair from her face and looked around.

    Pokémon were still sleeping everywhere – some alone, near or in the trees, some near each other on the hill…and by the now-extinct fire that had sat at the camp’s center, a black Umbreon and a lavender Espeon curled up together…

    That was when she realized that something – or, rather, someone – was missing.

    She tried to yell his name and soon found that her voice was slower in its awakening than every outside part of her.

    She sat up, trying to regain her thoughts…

    Just what was that dream about? And did it actually mean something?

    Was it of a wish – or an actual event?

    She hadn’t been behind a curtain in recent memory…so was it a depiction of an event that had not yet occurred?

    She looked down at her own arms – normally, her skin was a creamy color, but the sun, which was reaching its full clout this time of year, had endowed it with a slightly bronze tinge.

    She stood, calling his name again. Perhaps he had gone off this cool morning to be with his own thoughts. She walked around the fire, making careful not to wake (or, even worse, tread on) the sleeping creatures at her feet.

    She called for him a third time, this time more desperately.

    Her cry echoed around the few trees in the area, frightening a solitary Taillow into flight from the nearest one. Crimson-breasted and azure-feathered, the rudely-awoken avian took to the skies with a startled and angry chirp.

    She quieted at once. In her slight confusion, she had forgotten that she would most likely wake the Pokémon if she continued shouting.

    She backed away a step, and was then snared.

    She opened her mouth to scream as two arms locked around her navel, but she realized she had felt these hands before. Everything came back to her as she finally gained full consciousness.

    “I was hoping you’d wake up soon,” the boy holding her said. Even his voice indicated that he was glad to see her.

    She turned around so that his arms were around her back and looked up at him ever so slightly. He was two or three inches taller, so the difference was not extremely large, but still obvious. He seemed to have reconciled with his feral, cobalt hair, as it sat either in a long, braided ponytail at the back of his head or a hard and spiky fringe that seemed to fall naturally toward the left side of his forehead. Otherwise, it sat calmly atop his head as if chaos was not ensuing on either side.

    His arms silently worked their way around her back and pulled her close to him. She had felt the same comfort, the same sense of belonging, for the entire night. She could tell now…by the way he held her like the most precious treasure, the way he looked at her as if she was a diamond of immeasurable price…

    He would never forget her.



    He held her again, as he had through the night. Every time he set his eyes upon her, he felt somewhat…inadequate. Could he possibly do enough to repay her?

    She wanted to enjoy her time with him. He might not have agreed with her, but she still felt that she would have only so long with him. He knew the truth; when it came down to it, that decision would ultimately be left up to her.

    “Good morning, Katrina,” he said. “Did you sleep alright?”

    Katrina looked up at him and leaned her head on his chest, embracing him even more tightly.

    “Better than ever,” she said truthfully. “Although I had this really weird dream last night. It wasn’t bad…it was actually really good – I think.”

    “Really?” Travis asked, letting go of her. “What happened?”

    “I’m not sure what was happening, actually,” Katrina said. “I was wearing a dress, I think – or trapped inside one, at least. Everyone was looking at me…like I was the center of attention.”

    “You looked really happy,” Travis commented. “So I’m sure it was something good.”

    “You really did hold me the entire night, didn’t you?” Katrina asked.

    “Yeah, I did,” Travis answered, sounding a bit like a little kid who knew he’d been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

    Katrina giggled.

    “You never used to do that before,” she remarked.

    “There’s always room for something new,” Travis answered her rather nonchalantly, turning around and busying himself with packing.

    “You can be really romantic when you want to,” she said to his back, her face reddening to match her hair. “Where’s Reivyn?”

    Travis stood.

    “Gone,” he muttered.

    “What?!” Katrina exclaimed.

    “She must have left some time during the night, looking for Kenjiro,” Travis sighed. “I would have at least tried to stop her if I had known – not saying it would have worked. She’s changed – a lot. She’s a lot more strong-willed than she used to be.”

    “Do you think she’ll be alright?” Katrina asked.

    “I’m sure of it,” Travis said. “She can take care of herself now, I think.”

    Katrina sighed.

    “I wonder where Kenjiro went?” she asked.


    July 2, PA 2013 – Mt. Chimney

    BOING.

    BOING.

    BOING. BOING. BOING.


    A very humorous sound effect (BOING) split the air as a strange Pokémon – a creature whose face resembled a pig but who seemed to be made out of one huge spring – (BOING!!!) bounced at the feet of Matthew Marius. On the other side of the ash-covered field, a Machop – small, but muscular – rolled to his feet.

    Machop knifed his hand.

    “<Um…what do I do??>” the bouncing Pokémon asked Matthew in a surprisingly girlish voice.

    “Don’t charge, Spoink,” Matthew answered his newest Pokémon calmly. “Wait for Machop to come to you, and then follow my lead.”

    Machop charged.

    “<Here he comes!!>” Spoink squealed.

    “Blow him away!!” Matt yelled. “Use Psybeam!”

    “<Okay!!>” Spoink shouted. The pearl on her head began to glow with all kinds of colors, shining rainbow light upon the apparently oblivious Fighting-type she was battling.

    “<Off my turf – now!!>” Machop shouted in his native tongue. Spoink fired a rainbow-colored beam of Psychic energy that hit its mark. With a loud scream, Machop sailed up into the air and hit the ground soon after, groaning loudly.

    “Heh! Chew on that. Give up yet?” Matt shouted confidently.

    “<He-he! I win!>” Spoink bounced into the air extremely high, glowing a bright white.

    “Huh? Whoa!” Matt shouted in surprise. What came down wasn’t a Spoink, but a creature that had a spring for a tail and looked overall like a purple-and-black, bipedal pig. “Wow, Spoink—er, Grumpig…you evolved!”

    “<Really? I thought I felt weird,>” the Grumpig looked herself over. She then looked down. “<Hey! I have feet now – I can walk like you!>”

    “Great!” Matt exclaimed. “Now that you’ve evolved, I think we can take on Flannery again. Let’s go show everybody!”

    “<Coming!>” Grumpig shouted. Matt, who had already started walking, heard a loud series of thuds and winced. Almost afraid of what he’d find, he turned around…and found his Grumpig with her face in the dirt and ashes on the ground. She rose to her feet rather unsteadily. “<I don’t know how you humans do it. This walking stuff is hard.>”

    “We have to learn, too,” Matt explained. Holding out Grumpig’s Pokéball, he offered, “You look pretty tired anyway. Why don’t I carry you in here until we get back to the camp?”



    Matt readjusted his skullcap on his head, where his hazy-blond hair emerged (now on both sides) from his hat in a rather messy fashion. He was wearing a black t-shirt and some old jeans that were ripped at one knee. All of his good clothes were still in his bag – traveling through ash and sand in those could prove to be quite costly. He looked around. Truth be told, with the slightly rough and barren terrain – not to mention the ridiculous amount of volcanic ash on the ground – this wasn’t the best place to be making camp. But it was the best they could do for right now. Matt had, unfortunately, lost in his Gym battle to the Fire-type Leader of Lavaridge Town, Flannery Moore. She’d managed to get her hands on one particular Pokémon that was rare and, honestly, quite the nightmare to try and battle.

    Matt hadn’t been completely outmatched; it was a close loss, but a loss nonetheless.

    Of course, this had been his first loss to a Gym Leader since he arrived in Hoenn, so he had to take it all in stride. Flannery didn’t own him; that match could have gone either way, and it happened not to go his, that was all.

    He just needed a little bit more strength – so as to leave no doubt who was better the second time around. He still had two days before he could challenge Flannery for the second time, per league rules, and was actually enjoying himself in training Spoink—well, Grumpig now – and his other two Pokémon, his Combusken and his Mightyena. If there could be anything interpreted as a weakness in Matthew’s game, it was that he didn’t capture quite enough. He’d run across a Skarmory slightly to the north – not like it would have helped him against Flannery very much, as it was weak against fire – and had essentially let it go. He wouldn’t need four Pokémon to beat Flannery – he could do so with the three he had already.

    “Matt!” a girl was sitting near the remains of the fire they’d lit the night before. She had been reading a magazine of sorts, but presently it was laying in a heap on the ash-coated ground as the girl stood up, dusted herself off and shook her sleek, black hair out to its full length. She was wearing a white t-shirt as well as Capri pants that she seemed rather unconcerned about in terms of the mess. She strode across the field to him and hugged him around the neck as he returned the gesture around her waist. Their lips met for a second, then she decided to interrogate him.

    “Where have you been?” she asked.

    “Training with Spoink,” Matt explained. “Well, not Spoink anymore. She evolved.”

    “She’s a Grumpig now?” the black-haired girl asked loudly. “Let me see her! Come on!!”

    “Calm down, Mariah,” Matt laughed, holding out the Pokéball. “C’mon out, Grumpig.”
    The ball burst open, revealing the creature with the pig-like snout and the spring-like tail.

    “<Hmm?>” Grumpig looked around, a bit confused. “<Are we battling again? What’s going on?>”

    “No,” Matt laughed. “We’re taking a break for right now.”

    “<Well, look at you,>” a big, rather sinister-looking canine sidled up beside Mariah, showing his fangs in a toothy grin. “<Moving up in the world, are we? Congratulations.>”

    “<Thanks, Mightyena,>” Grumpig replied.

    “Where’s Combusken?” Matt asked the Dark-type.

    “<Still trying to knock over that tree, probably,>” Mightyena responded.

    “Never rests, that one…” Matt muttered distractedly.

    “<He’s probably still hacked off about losing that last match,>” Mightyena commented. “<Personally, I don’t blame him. I think he’s making a little bit too much of a fluke, though.>”

    “<Confident?>” Grumpig asked.

    “<You could say that,>” Mightyena responded.

    “Well, I’m feeling pretty good about the whole thing,” Matthew remarked. “The only concern is, how do we bring down that last one? Flannery’s first two Pokémon are pretty slow, but then she’s got that -- AARGH!”

    Matthew screamed as he felt that awful, awkward, dripping cool as two wet index fingers entered each of his ears…

    The dreaded ‘wet willie.’

    “MADELINE – WHAT THE HELL!” he cried, seemingly knowing the culprit before turning around to find a girl slightly shorter than him with mostly brown hair skirting away from him and hiding behind a tall boy with iridescently red hair. She poked her face out from behind his form and giggled. As rattled as Matthew was, he couldn’t help but smile.

    “Found you!” Madeline exclaimed. “We’ve been looking all over the mountain. Kenjiro is ****** at you for running off and not telling anyone.”

    “This is my caring face,” Matthew said with almost palpable sarcasm, smiling nonchalantly. “If he’s so ****** off, why didn’t he come looking for me himself? He’s usually got his head so far in the clouds that I didn’t think it’d hurt anything if I left for a while. I was coming back in a couple of days – geez…”

    “Sounded to me like he thought someone was after you,” the red-haired boy – Shiro – commented.

    “He’s just frickin’ paranoid,” Matt groaned. “I’m not the one with the sword, so I’m not the one with those types of enemies.”

    “I wish someone would try and attack us,” Shiro muttered. “I’d beat their asses into the ground.”

    “Is that so?” A voice from the trees startled the group, and human and Pokémon alike looked up. Standing atop one of the few trees was a strange-looking young man with a black outfit and icy, blue hair.

    Madeline groaned.

    “You and your big mouth,” she muttered to Shiro.

    “Who the hell are you?” the boy shouted up into the trees.

    “Tall form…red hair…those eyes. You have to be the one!” the young man shouted, disappearing. He reappeared at ground level, reaching back over his shoulder with his left hand. From that shoulder came a long, narrow sword. Noticeable was the red light seemingly emanating from the fuller in the sword’s blade.

    “Tell me when you’re ready to stop speaking in code so I can understand what the hell you’re saying,” Shiro said bitingly.

    “I suppose they all look the same to you,” the young man growled, seeming to lose his reason with each successive word. “You never think…you never look as the life leaves their eyes. You never remember the people that are left behind.”

    “Agh, frick – an emo,” Shiro groaned, rolling his eyes. “Gonna use that sword to slit your wrists in front of me? Thanks, but I’m not into that type of thing.”

    “Your throat would be a far better prize…murderer!”

    The mystery man whispered these few words and charged. Shiro stepped out in front and grabbed the man’s wrist as he tried to bring his sword down upon the young Blackthorn.

    “Great – what’s with you? I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about,” Shiro said, grunting every three words or so with the effort of holding back his attacker. “I haven’t murdered anyone.”

    “I’m sure you remember my brother,” the young man commented. “Two years ago…you killed him.”

    “I haven’t killed anyone…that’s not for a lack of effort, though,” Shiro replied calmly. “You’ve got the wrong guy.”

    He threw the young man (who, despite appearing to be older, was actually an inch shorter than him) backward and pulled something from behind him.

    “You mind trying that again?” Shiro questioned, flicking his wrist and revealing a red bo staff that was about eight feet in length. With a slight click, the weapon’s several segments locked into place.

    “Haven’t I seen you bef—” Madeline walked forward and was stopped by Shiro’s long arm. She then whispered into the boy’s ear, “Haven’t we seen him before?”

    “Then again…” the icy-haired young man stated, “…maybe you don’t remember my little brother. I know I’ve killed lots of people and can’t remember what they all looked like. Hell, I probably won’t remember what you look like after I’m through with you.”

    “Get it through your thick skull,” Shiro snarled. “I haven’t killed anybody.”

    “I know you’re trying to cover your tracks by traveling around with these little kids, but I know better…” the mysterious young man snarled. He then breathed deeply – a long, ragged breath – and uttered the name of the accused so loudly that everyone within a mile of them could hear it.

    “…DRAGON MASTER LANCE BLACKTHORN!!”

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  9. #259
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    Jul 2006
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    The return of the surfer is nigh, dude! Sorry, I couldn't resist, and I forget if Jeff is Marty's brother or not. Surfer dude characters hold a special place in my heart, though...

    Anyways, enjoy this chapter I did, as I consider myself a die hard fan of PRJ. In fact, I could go as far as to say that this is the ultimate throwback chapter. Nate and Avril and Cherrygrove and New Bark; Travis and Katrina and their heart-to-heart; Shiro about to (hopefully) pwn someone with a staff, which is the most pwnsome weapon next to a spear, mind you. Oh, and of course Amber and her uncanny likeness to Cannon.

    This chapter had it all, except for Travis being all Kenshin with this sword, but that was taken care of in the last chapter. I saw no real issue with grammar, and since this was more of a catch-up filler type of chapter, evaluating the progression of the plot would be kind of pointless. Unless, of course, you weren't going for a filler, then something was wrong. There is one thing that bothers me, though: how the heck is Shiro's staff supposed to stay together?? I never have gotten those multi-joint weapons figured out...

    Right, highlights:

    “<Too slow,>” Champ rose to his feet, smirking. “<Good luck trying to roast the ‘C-Train’!>”

    “<Hey, C-Train!>” Angel shouted from the sideline. “<Your caboose is on fire.>”

    “<Wha?>” Champ turned around and looked at the fire quickly spreading from his tail to his backside.


    “<OH, ****!!!>”

    Amber was rolling around on the ground in laughter as Champ literally jumped twenty feet in the air, hands over his flaming fundament as Travis fumbled near his belt.

    “Meru, use Water Gun!!” in a flash of light, the Kitide appeared, seeing the fire immediately and shooting a jet of water right at the offending area.


    CRACK!

    Travis went googly-eyed as Champ went careening toward Amber, who had no time to get out of the way.

    Upon hearing the almighty crash that occurred next, Reivyn, Angel, and Crescent all stood up and looked in that direction, where there was now a cloud of dust.

    “<Wow…aggressive. If you want me back, just say so.>” Amber’s voice emerged from the settling cloud first. When it dissipated, it revealed a soaking-wet Champ lying limply over Amber, who was on her back.

    “<Amber….shut – the – hell – up,>” Champ’s response came in short stabs.

    “<Did I overdo it?>” Meru tilted her head at the sight, trying her level best to hold in a laugh.

    “<I don’t know – am I supposed to be on the ground, feeling like I just got hit by a ton of bricks?>” Champ asked.

    “<Don’t blame yourself, Meru,>” Amber said airily. “<He just can’t resist my charm.>”

    “<You’d better hope that there isn’t a Pokémon hell,>” Champ grumbled. “<If you say another word…>”

    “<You’ll do what?>” Amber threw Champ off herself and rolled to her feet. “<Face it – I just totally pwned you.>”

    Champ blinked.

    Meru blinked.

    Angel and Crescent blinked.

    “<Please don’t tell me that she just used ‘pwned’ in a sentence like it was a normal word,>” Angel remarked.

    A huge sweatdrop appeared by Crescent’s hopelessly shaking head.
    That joke never gets old, and neither does the insertion of leet into a fanfic.

    “‘A pendulum will only swing so far in one direction as it already has in the other. So, it seems, is the rule of men. A king lax with his authority can look forward to chaos down the road, but woe to the king with the iron fist, for he will find his hand melted and deformed by the flames of rebellion.’”
    Wise words, yep. Now, if only we humans could get it right...

    “<COCONUTS!!!>”
    ... ... ... Do I need to comment?

    Take care, and good luck with school. You'll need it, I'm sure, -Oath

    PS: Why not let Madeline sign up for Edgar's army? That way, Travis and the others don't have to do anything. I mean, the second she shows up, the great and illustrious Kenjiro is brought to his knees.

  10. #260
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    Hey! Damn... it's always the same... the net goes out for one day, and you post up another helping of goodness... feeling sour right now, so let's get to it!

    “He’s the one that started the Triangle Conflict fiasco – that disastrous war where we lost nearly eight thousand men needlessly; all because our kingdom at the time didn’t see the value and importance of these alliances and peace treaties that you think are so ‘weak’.”
    “Thanks, Ivanna,” he said, cracking a smile and beginning his march down the cliff.
    OR

    “Thanks, Ivanna,” he said, cracking a smile at her and beginning his march down the cliff.
    ^Don't ask me why this line was errored. It just was...^

    OK, there were more, but i forgive myself and the net... so Castform'll have to handle them...

    “<Too slow,>” Champ rose to his feet, smirking. “<Good luck trying to roast the ‘C-Train’!>”

    “<Hey, C-Train!>” Angel shouted from the sideline. “<Your caboose is on fire.>”

    “<Wha?>” Champ turned around and looked at the fire quickly spreading from his tail to his backside.

    “<OH, ****!!!>”

    Amber was rolling around on the ground in laughter as Champ literally jumped twenty feet in the air, hands over his flaming fundament as Travis fumbled near his belt.

    “Meru, use Water Gun!!” in a flash of light, the Kitide appeared, seeing the fire immediately and shooting a jet of water right at the offending area.

    CRACK!

    Travis went googly-eyed as Champ went careening toward Amber, who had no time to get out of the way.

    Upon hearing the almighty crash that occurred next, Reivyn, Angel, and Crescent all stood up and looked in that direction, where there was now a cloud of dust.

    “<Wow…aggressive. If you want me back, just say so.>” Amber’s voice emerged from the settling cloud first. When it dissipated, it revealed a soaking-wet Champ lying limply over Amber, who was on her back.

    “<Amber….shut – the – hell – up,>” Champ’s response came in short stabs.

    “<Did I overdo it?>” Meru tilted her head at the sight, trying her level best to hold in a laugh.

    “<I don’t know – am I supposed to be on the ground, feeling like I just got hit by a ton of bricks?>” Champ asked.

    “<Don’t blame yourself, Meru,>” Amber said airily. “<He just can’t resist my charm.>”

    “<You’d better hope that there isn’t a Pokémon hell,>” Champ grumbled. “<If you say another word…>”

    “<You’ll do what?>” Amber threw Champ off herself and rolled to her feet. “<Face it – I just totally pwned you.>”

    Champ blinked.

    Meru blinked.

    Angel and Crescent blinked.

    “<Please don’t tell me that she just used ‘pwned’ in a sentence like it was a normal word,>” Angel remarked.

    A huge sweatdrop appeared by Crescent’s hopelessly shaking head.
    I love the C-Train quip... that was the best part. It brought tears of laughter to my eyes... for real.

    Nice! Act Two sounds like a great chapter title to me! It's like we get a look at what the next stage of their lives has to offer all the main characters involved: Katrina, Shiro (mixing him up withLance was a novel way to intro a new character... relative of ninja dude?), Matt (the third fire type of Flannery has me guessing guesses... loved the Spoink/Grumpig intro too, Combusken sounds like a hard-core version of Champ), Nate and Avril especially. You've opened up new vistas for all the characters and helped deepened their bonds.

    All in all, as long as i read this, your ability to combine wise words, philosophical characterisation and an overdose of laughter whoop-*** still inspires me to go on. I thought of making you my writing rival... then i noticed i had 'a snowball's chance in hell'... quote familiar much?

    LOL...

    til the next post... and keep strong for school.

    L@er!
    The Corei Quest's latest chapter: Chapter Forty Seven: Tricks of the Trade (24 April 2014)
    PROJECT C-SQUARE STATUS = 100.00% Complete (11-12-2010, ca. 2:40pm GMT)
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    (Still waiting on the excellent Saffire Persian for another awesome TCQ banner!)

  11. #261
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    “Then again…” the icy-haired young man stated, “…maybe you don’t remember my little brother. I know I’ve killed lots of people and can’t remember what they all looked like. Hell, I probably won’t remember what you look like after I’m through with you.”

    “Get it through your thick skull,” Shiro snarled. “I haven’t killed anybody.”

    “I know you’re trying to cover your tracks by traveling around with these little kids, but I know better…” the mysterious young man snarled. He then breathed deeply – a long, ragged breath – and uttered the name of the accused so loudly that everyone within a mile of them could hear it.

    “…DRAGON MASTER LANCE BLACKTHORN!!”
    Can't that guy tell that shiro is younger than lance?
    http://dragcave.ath.cx/user/20660
    Please click on these eggs and this link so they can survive

  12. #262
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    Nope - there's a reason for that which you'll find out in the next chapter.

    Speaking of the next chapter, I'm making decent time on it - maybe it should be up by next week.

    - EM1
    Last edited by EonMaster One; 20th January 2008 at 2:46 AM.

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  13. #263
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    Default Chapter 27

    A bit of a snafu on Harland’s part, eh?

    Yeah, this is going to get more and more interesting as things go on. Now that everyone’s a bit separated, it’s going to be a bit more difficult to resolve the plotlines and get everyone together again, but I’m sure going to try my best.

    And also, for those of you that haven’t guessed already, you’ll find out for sure who Harland’s brother is.

    Also, there was a purpose for writing this chapter. It has a “WTFZOMGthiscan’tbehappening” moment toward the middle that’ll make everyone freak.

    DISCLAIMER: By the way…I don’t own Lifehouse. They pwn everybody else.

    Chapter 27: A Step Short of Oblivion

    July 2, PA 2013 – Southern Foot of Mt. Chimney, Near Lavaridge Town, Hoenn

    “Lance Blackthorn, huh?” Shiro said calmly, holding his rod at his side.

    “Lance?” Matt muttered, pulling his sister back. “Isn’t Shiro related to –”

    Shut up!! Matt!” Madeline whispered, stepping on his toe hard.

    “Sorry – I’m not Lance,” Shiro replied calmly. “But it does kind of interest me that you want my uncle dead.”

    “A life for a life – a fair price, is it not?” the young man asked. “You kill a man, you die yourself.”

    “I don’t have you beating my uncle Lance in a fight – sorry,” Shiro laughed.

    “Well, at least move out of my way, boy,” the young man growled. “I have a job to do.”

    “Who are you trying to murder?” Shiro asked, resting the rod against his shoulder.

    “This doesn’t concern you,” the young man said. “The Swordbearer is on his way to Lavaridge.”

    “Swordbearer…” Shiro’s tone became serious. “You’re after Travis, then.”

    “What’s the boy to you?” the young man asked.

    “I don’t know who you are – all I know is that you want to kill the only family I have left,” Shiro muttered, lowering his rod. “You won’t go another step.”

    “And you’re going to stop me?” the young man laughed, brandishing his blade. “You’ve never fought a Mystic, have you?”

    He raised his free hand.

    “GET DOWN!!” Shiro shouted, shoving Madeline to the ground as he was struck by a bluish-white blast of energy. Matt grabbed Mariah and dove out of the way as Shiro went flying backward, missing them by a split-second.

    “Shiro!” Madeline screamed. Shiro hit a tree – hard – and slumped over, leaning onto his rod for support.

    “Who – what – are you?” Shiro gasped.

    “Harland,” the young man said, his orange eyes glinting.

    “Your brother…your brother was Ryuji, wasn’t he?!” Madeline shouted loudly. “The Marauder, Ryuji…I’d recognize those eyes anywhere…”

    “How…perceptive of you…” Harland hissed, taking one step toward Madeline, and then another. Without warning, a rather large body plowed into him, knocking him to the ground.

    Shiro rolled to his feet, his hand still firmly gripping his rod.

    “Now I remember…” Shiro muttered. “Ft. Jonah – two years ago…”


    July 30, PA 2011 – Fort Jonah, South of Blackthorn City, Johto


    A sword flashed in front of his face – but it wasn’t Ryuji’s. It had come from Lorca’s left as the sound of metal against metal was heard and Lorca saw a crimson blur flit through his field of vision. Was that Shiro?

    No, Shiro didn’t use a sword. Once the blur had stopped moving, Lorca couldn’t believe his eyes.

    “Lance?” he choked.

    Lance didn’t respond, but only roared and turned toward Ryuji, who took a couple of steps and leapt high into the air. Lance advanced toward him and, just as Ryuji would have landed in front of him, swung his blade ‘Dragonfang’ from left to right as quick as lightning.

    For the sake of not being overly graphic, we will just say that Ryuji landed in two places at once.


    Shiro smirked.

    “You think you have a right to take revenge for that?” he asked. “Your brother died because he stuck his nose in someone else’s business…does that sound familiar?”

    Harland snarled in response and raised his sword.

    “You want to fight me?? Bring it on!!” Shiro yelled.

    Harland charged. Shiro gripped his rod in a way that would release its iron chain, making it into something of a giant, three-piece nunchaku, and swung. Harland seemed to disappear at the business end of the weapon got there, and Shiro constricted his new weapon into its rod form and ran at Harland at full speed.

    With an extremely loud noise, the weapons made contact with each other. Shiro tried to release his rod into its segmented form and wrap Harland’s sword, but the crafty, blue-haired fighter lifted it slightly into the air, taking Shiro’s weapon and Shiro’s right arm with it. Shiro looked down – his ribs were exposed. He braced for the hit that was coming.

    Shiro doubled over as he was pasted by another ball of the strange, blue flame that Harland shot from his free hand. Shiro’s weapon quit its snakelike grip upon Harland’s sword, hitting the ground limply. As Harland realized his own blade was free to do its work, a sick smile crossed his face.

    “You don’t really know how to use that weapon, do you?” Harland asked.

    “I’m testing it out for somebody else, actually,” Shiro stood although his ribs were still burning. “You know…if you were going to kill me, that would have been a really good time to do it. That’s the problem with all of you comic-book villain wannabes…”

    With surprising speed, Shiro was upon Harland, and the center section of Shiro’s three-piece rod was wrapped around the young man’s throat. With an uncharacteristic lack of mercy, he kneed Harland in his back, causing the Mystic to leave his feet, while also throttling Harland with his weapon just a bit.

    With a loud yell, Shiro yanked Harland to the ground and flung him free of his grapple. The black-garbed swordsman hit the ground and rolled several times before coming to a stop a few yards away.

    “You all talk too much,” Shiro finished, constricting his weapon to a rod again and laying it against his shoulder. “You ready to shut up and really fight now?”

    “Sounds like a thought,” Harland muttered, picking up his sword, which had been forcefully separated from him by Shiro’s last attack. He stood, stretching his hand toward Shiro.

    “Oh, shit…” Shiro muttered, knowing what was coming next.

    BANG.

    A blast of blue flames issued forth from Harland’s left hand for the umpteenth time. This time, Shiro adroitly ducked it and charged. He released its weapon into its three segments, extending it to nearly fifteen feet in length, and then swung. He hit –

    Nothing but air.

    Shiro whirled around…just in time.

    CLANG.

    Another split-second and Shiro’s crimson-covered head would have been parted from his shoulders. Fortunately, though, he turned around just in time to block Harland’s deceptive strike. Harland disengaged from Shiro and aimed the weapon this time at the boy’s body, but was turned away yet again. Shiro retaliated with a strike to the head that hit its mark and sent Harland reeling. Harland swung his sword at Shiro a third time, and Shiro was ready.

    Lengthening his three-piece rod, he knocked down Harland’s sword...

    …and then knocked down Harland. The blue-haired Mystic, who now had a trail of blood trickling from his face (where he’d just been lambasted with Shiro’s weapon), caught the broad side of his own long sword between his hands right as Shiro had tried to pin him to the ground with it. Raising one black-booted foot, he kicked the red-haired youth in the side, pushing him sideways to the ground, and sprang to his feet.

    Flipping the sword up into the air and catching it just as Shiro found his own weapon and rolled to his feet, Harland panted, wiping blood from his mouth.

    Shiro, meanwhile, took this opportunity to catch his own breath.

    “Enough…” Harland barked. “…games.”

    Harland was there….then a blue-and-black blur was there.

    Shiro felt the stinging pain almost before he realized that Harland had slashed him. Clutching his arm, he looked up and saw one outstretched hand, glowing blue.

    It felt like he’d been hit over the head with a brick. The blast issued forth from Harland’s palm caught Shiro full-on in the face.

    “SHIRO!” Madeline screamed.

    “Hey – get up, damn it!!” Matthew shouted, sounding a little bit panicked.

    “You – try doing this,” Shiro choked, spitting up a copious amount of blood, which continued to trickle down his face and lips as he rose to his feet.

    “Stay down, damn you…” Harland growled.

    “Hit me harder, damn you,” Shiro quipped with a bleeding smirk.

    Harland lost his temper and rushed.

    “Crazy son of a *****!!” Shiro shouted. He jumped left just as Harland got there, and it took a worried second of drifting through the air to realize that he’d almost gotten his head cut off.

    “Shiro, be careful!!” Madeline shouted.

    Shiro caught Harland’s sword between the segments of his rod in order to block it.

    “Not bad….” Harland grunted. “…for a kid.”

    “You can say that I’ve had some – experience,” Shiro replied through gritted teeth, finally shoving Harland backward and allowing for a lull in the action. Making his weapon compact once more, Shiro held the rod at his side, resolutely flicking his crimson bangs out of his right eye.

    The dead, skeletal trees wafted in a slight breeze as a thin cloud of volcanic ash rose around the ankles of the combatants and the witnesses alike.

    “You done yet?” Shiro questioned, his golden eyes boring into Harland with their ferocity.

    “Just warming up,” Harland lowered his sword and charged. Shiro held his rod in front of him as if to block, but jumped aside as Harland swung and overextended himself. With a quick strike, Shiro brought the Mystic to the ground. Snarling, Harland rolled to his feet, extending his hand toward Shiro. A white blast issued forth from this palm, striking the unready youth in the chest. The blast exploded, blowing Shiro backward as he let out a loud yell of shock and pain.

    “ARG—”

    “Shiro!” Madeline shouted in worry as the red-haired fighter hit the ground, smoking from the blast.

    This time, he didn’t rise again.

    “You let your guard down for a second…” Harland growled. “And you’re dead.”

    Madeline broke free from her twin brother and ran over to Shiro’s lifeless, smoking body.

    “Shiro!” she lifted Shiro’s head slightly and turned his face toward him. To her great relief, his golden-yellow eyes were open slightly, staring straight into Madeline’s orbs of jade-green as the boy wore a weakened smile on his face. “Ah – you’re alive…”

    “Somehow…” Shiro groaned. “Aha…damn it. I thought I had him for a second. Looks like that trip to the hot springs is gonna have to wait for a while…”

    “Don’t talk anymore,” Madeline whispered.

    “Don’t worry,” Shiro reached up and stroked his girlfriend’s face. “Takes more than this to finish me off…”

    His hand went limp and hit the ground as his eyes closed…but he was still breathing.

    Madeline set him down and looked up into Harland’s eyes with an element of fear.

    “Damn it…” Matthew muttered, holding onto Bianca. “Shiro was our best fighter, besides Kenjiro. What do we do now?”

    “You beg for mercy,” Harland droned, pointing his sword at Matthew and Mariah.

    “Matt…” Mariah whimpered, cowering as Matt held onto her…and slowly swung her behind them.

    “I’m sorry, Bee,” he said lovingly, turning around toward Harland. “Beg for mercy…what a waste of time. You’re going to kill me anyway, aren’t you?”

    “Matt…” Mariah seemed to be on the verge of tears now. Harland smirked nastily.

    “Going to be noble, are we?” he commented. “Do you have any last words? Anything you want to say to me before I end your life?”

    Matt responded with a rather simple, two-word phrase beginning with the sixth letter of the alphabet.

    “That wasn’t very nice,” Harland groaned.

    “Matt…!” Mariah sobbed.

    “Matt – what the hell are you doing?” Madeline shouted.

    “Take me,” Matt said loudly. “Leave the girls alone. They’ve done nothing to you, have they?”

    “Matt, NO!” Madeline rushed toward him…

    SLAP.

    Matt took his sister’s stinging palm across the face without any sort of reaction.

    “Don’t be stupid,” Madeline choked, grabbing her brother by the shoulders. “Please…stop…think about what you’re doing…”

    “I’ve already thought about it,” Matthew said. “I’m doing what I should have done two years ago: protecting you.”

    “I don’t want you to end up like them…” Madeline whispered.

    Slowly, Matthew shifted Madeline behind him and stepped forward. He and Harland stared each other down.

    “You’re willing to sacrifice yourself to save the others?” Harland asked. “Such a fool.”

    Matthew lifted a necklace from his neck and forcefully cast it behind him.

    “A better fool than you,” he answered cryptically. A sick smile crossed Harland’s face as he raised his sword…

    The remaining space between Matthew and Harland’s blade erupted into the whitest and hottest of flames. Harland, predictably, stopped dead in his tracks, while his would-be prey backed up a step, uttering a strangled cry of shock. Harland and Matthew (as well as Mariah and Madeline, who had been looking on fearfully this entire time) watched the white flame flicker with more than a crackle. It was a thunderous roar, almost like the very epicenter of an earthquake.

    ….and then it died, revealing a shimmering katana, one with the ash-covered earth beneath it.

    Holding this katana…

    “What are you doing here?!” Matthew couldn’t even offer any gratitude out of his shock. Madeline’s face lit up with awe, and Mariah looked like she was about to faint from the enormity of it all.

    The cobalt-haired boy looked over his shoulder, his azure eyes full of a terror that had not been unleashed, perhaps, in years.

    “Leave…” he spoke for the first time, his voice coming out not with a firm kind of gentleness, but with rage and the sound of someone barely holding on to sanity. “…my…friends…alone.”

    “Play with the small fry long enough, the big fish shows up,” Harland stepped back, surprised but nonetheless composed.

    “Exactly,” Travis growled through his clenched teeth. “Where’s Darris?”

    “What was that?” Harland asked.

    “You’re working for Darris, aren’t you?” Travis asked. “You attack them…looking for me. Well, I’ve got good news for you…”

    His neck tilted sideways and the flames around him all seemed to focus into the edge of his sword.

    “I’M RIGHT HERE!!”

    He rushed, slow enough for Harland’s fearful eyes to barely follow him. He aimed the sword at his counterpart’s face…

    The acrid smell of boiling blood filled the space as the life-giving plasma spurted forth from Harland’s visage and was licked up by the roaring, white flames trailing through the air, following the sword as if tethered to it. Mariah screamed in terror and gasped as Harland screamed in agony and hit the ground.

    Crimson claret trickled (and occasionally burst) between Harland’s fingers as they covered and guarded the left side of his face. Singular, icy blue hairs also littered the ground, sprinkled like seasonings amidst the scarlet soup presently seeping into the cinder-covered earth.

    Travis stepped on something white, which promptly exploded into nonexistence once the boy placed his full weight upon it and stomped it into the ground.

    “Too bad for you, I missed your neck,” Travis snarled, an unhinged smirk crossing his face. “If I didn’t manage to cut your worthless head from your shoulders, at least you would have bled to death more quickly.”

    Harland responded with a piteous moan.

    “Look at the bully. He picks fights with those he thinks are weaker than he is…but once someone stronger comes along…he shows his true colors,” Travis replied. “At the end of it all, he’s just another face looking up at someone who beat him, on his knees, begging for mercy. He’s a coward.”

    Harland moaned and sobbed again, trying to hold in a scream of agony.

    “Where’s Darris?” he asked with a deadly calm, holding the sword to Harland’s forehead as he knelt down next to the fallen swordsman. “Where is he? I want him to watch me kill you. Where is he? WHERE IS HE?!?!”

    Travis’ roar echoed in the vast space and was answered by utter silence.

    “You’re not going to tell me?” the Swordbearer turned his sword downward, raising it over Harland’s helpless body. Harland gave one, final, desperate choke, by way of a plea for mercy.

    “You don’t want to do that.” Upon hearing a voice, Travis lowered his sword to his hip and smirked, looking down at Harland disdainfully.

    “You were right,” he said. “Play with the small fry long enough, the big fish shows up. You got away from me once…but not this time.”

    He whirled around and saw a man and a young woman. The man was presently removing his black fedora, revealing his bright red hair and royal-blue eyes. The young woman holding onto him had about Rashid’s skin tone, but had a head of short, ash-blonde hair and was wearing a revealing outfit. Matt and Mariah seemed frozen with fear, but Madeline’s jade-colored eyes refused to look away. She was made of slightly tougher things, nerves of iron forged in the flames of war, two years ago…

    The red-haired man laughed.

    “Reiko, you are such an idiot,” Darris Klein laughed. “I told you not to fight him.”

    “Darris…” the young woman whispered, clinging to him fearfully.

    “Kilara…” Darris whispered. “Stay back.”

    Darris drew his sword. Travis sheathed his.

    There was frightening quiet for about five seconds. To everyone’s surprise, the next shout came neither from Darris nor Travis:

    “WATCH OUT!!” Kilara dove around Darris, firing a beam of energy from the globular core of a violet-shafted rod that Travis could have sworn hadn’t been there before. It hit an incoming thunderbolt that darted forth from behind Travis. The two meshed, resulting in a tremendous explosion that blew both Darris and Travis off their feet.

    Kilara staggered to a standing position. Travis looked up as a form with flowing, pink hair darted out in front of him.

    “Even all the way out here…” Katrina panted. Her voice sounded shocked…slightly desperate.

    Kilara stood, pointing her rod at Katrina the entire time. Katrina refused to back down, yet didn’t seem ready to attack.

    “Kilara,” Darris muttered in a low drone, sitting up.

    “Who are you?” Kilara asked, her eyes glowing baby-blue.

    Travis sprang to his feet. “Another Aurillian…” he muttered, clutching his sword.

    “Kilara,” Darris repeated, this time a little louder. Travis looked over his shoulder at the fainted swordsman behind him. Kilara and Katrina were still in a standoff, each pointing her rod at the other.

    “Katrina, get out of there,” Travis heard himself snarl, conjuring a ball of black-flaring flames in his free hand. “I’m going to kill both of them – let me through.”

    “Wait a second…” Katrina pleaded.

    “Kilara!!” Darris shouted desperately.

    “Get out of the way,” Travis growled again, the globe of blackness swelling in his hand. A drop of cold sweat ran down Katrina’s face as she heard the dark energy begin to hum behind her. “I can’t let them live this time – we talked about this already!”

    “KILARA!!!” Darris was now yelling at the top of his lungs.

    “KATRINA!!!” Travis shouted just as loudly. Then, coincidentally, the two chorused:

    ”MOVE!!!”

    Travis leapt out from behind Katrina as Darris charged past Kilara, his sword raised. Travis hurled the mass of dark energy at Darris, who cut through it with his glowing blade and continued to charge.

    The two blades clashed with massive results. Travis knocked Darris’ sword aside temporarily.

    “I’ll show you not to stick your nose where it doesn’t belong!” A stygian voice escaped from the boy’s lips as he laid into Darris’ chest with his flaming blade. Darris was cut, obviously, but hardly took any notice of it as he struck back. Unfortunately for him, Travis was too quick, parrying the attack and allowing Darris to stumble past him. He raised his hand. Flames of hellish black and red gathered at his palm as he looked down at the helpless Mystic below him…

    He watched his palm…he watched the black, hellish, demon claw…

    Something inside him snapped.

    He let out a gasp and began to clutch his arm…

    His accursed arm…

    He fell to his knees, gasping and choking, his eyes wide with horror. He looked around him…at the red-haired swordsman keeled over right next to him, at the young woman who stared at her surroundings in utter terror, her rod her only defense against the chaos around her…and lastly…at Harland, who lay fallen in a pool of blood.

    Had he been the one who had wrought all this?

    This was all his doing. He was the monster that had caused this pain…

    He had turned into the very monster he thought he had defeated.

    “Couldn’t do it, huh?” Darris laughed, rising from the ground. “I’ll let you live, then…but that sword will be mine.”

    Darris stood and, in a column of rings, disappeared from Travis’ side. Travis looked up and watched as Darris appeared behind Kilara, grab her, and disappear a second time. A fourth and fifth hum behind Travis indicated that Darris, with Kilara alongside him, had taken their fallen comrade with them, leaving only the small, drying pool of blood that was where Harland had been.

    All was silent for a moment. Travis, still on his knees, could only look down at his own hands…
    [RIGHT]…his own, bloodstained hands…[/CENTER]

    …and see that accursed, tarred arm and that huge, lonely claw.

    The rod Katrina bore in her hand dissipated after a while and she promptly ran over to Travis, who was still on his knees. The ash below him was dampened by sweat and tears, leaving a small, beige pool of muck just inches below his nose.

    “Travis? Travis?” Katrina said rather pleadingly, running over to him. “Come on, get up – they’re gone. The fight’s over…”

    “Go…get away…” were the first words out of Travis’ mouth.

    “What?” Katrina muttered.

    “Get away…” Travis repeated, this time with more urgency. “I don’t want to hurt you…”

    “Hurt me?” Katrina seemed utterly confused. With the dead, limp look of a zombie, Travis stood under his own power. His eyes seemed to be glazed over – he wasn’t himself.

    “I don’t…” Travis seemed to be having trouble finding the right words. “I don’t want my dream to come true.”

    “Dream?” Katrina said. “What dream?”

    Travis walked over to her and hugged her tightly. She embraced back, not quite knowing what was going on.

    “Katrina…” he began to whisper to her. “I don’t want to hurt you.”

    “I know,” she replied lovingly.

    “That’s why…that’s why we can’t be together anymore.”

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  14. #264
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    Default Chapter 27 - Part 2

    ~~~ *** ~~~

    The words hit Katrina like a sledgehammer to the heart. She stepped back.

    “You don’t mean that,” she said flatly, shaking her head. Travis looked the most sorry of anyone. He tore his eyes away and at once they found the blood that had pooled around where Harland’s body had been. “Hey, turn around. Look at me…you’re not yourself. Think about what you’re saying.”

    “I’ve thought about it,” Travis said blankly. “All day. I can’t let you do this to yourself anymore.”

    “What?!” Katrina shouted.

    “Find someone more stable…maybe somebody that has just one personality and hasn’t had to deal with the strain of war…” Travis muttered. “That’ll be best for you…find someone else…”

    “NO!!” Katrina screamed hysterically. “I don’t want anyone else!! I just want –”

    “YOU DON’T WANT ME!!” Travis raised his voice to a yell, and for a moment, it seemed as if the darkness inside him was about to take over once again. At this, Katrina’s communication was reduced to silent tears. “You don’t want me. Hell, I don’t even want me.”

    He turned around and slowly began walking away.

    …Out of the clearing…

    Out of sight.

    Katrina dropped to her knees, tears flowing unbidden from her baby-blue eyes as she could not gather enough energy even to scream. It was as if her very life had been taken from her. When he held her that morning, she could not imagine life without him. It was something in a far-off world – a world she was sure that she would never see…

    …until now.

    Torrents spilt forth from her eyes, dampening the ash as she cried aloud.

    Matthew and Mariah stared in shock, not really knowing what to do. They were shocked like her. When they had seen Travis and Katrina for the first time, they were absolutely sure that the two would grow old together, die in each other’s arms…

    And now that future seemed all but shattered.

    Madeline had run over to tend to another boy who had been lying on the ground, all but forgotten in the commotion. He opened his eyes, and found two others the color of healthy spring leaves staring back at him.

    “Madeline…” Shiro muttered. Madeline wordlessly cupped his face with one of her hands. “Ouch…everything hurts…I don’t know why, but I hear Katrina crying. I’ve known her long enough to know what she sounds like when she cries.”

    Madeline backed away from him, allowing him to sit up, which he did quickly. Within a second, he was up to a standing position and within another second, he saw the pink-haired girl kneeling in the center of all of the ashes and dead trees around them.

    “Katrina!” Shiro shouted, closing the short distance between them at a sprint and kneeling in front of her. As he lowered himself to get a good look at her face, he noticed that her baby-blue eyes were glazed over. In fact, they were glowing white…as were the tears that were falling from them. “What’s going on? Where’s Travis? Isn’t he with you?”

    He shook his childhood friend gently and received no verbal answer…just more tears.


    Several hours passed, and night blanketed Mt. Chimney in earnest. The stars were out in full force tonight and the waning moon shone brightly as well. The sloppily-crafted camp centered around a small fire in the center of the clearing. It had been quite difficult finding sufficient wood to build a fire with such few trees around. Dinner was done and, now, the five of them sat in silence around the dying fire.

    Finally, Shiro’s patience could take no more:

    “So, what the hell happened?” he asked a bit more loudly than he’d meant to, out of frustration.

    “So much…so much happened,” Katrina said in a dead sort of voice. “But I thought he was getting over it. I thought he was getting better…I don’t know why he – he…”

    With that, she broke down in tears again.

    “Damn it!” she cried. “This is all my fault! I shouldn’t have left him by himself – I knew something was wrong! He hadn’t been acting like himself all day!”

    She pounded the ground in her frustration, looking away from the rest of them.

    Shiro sat back, looking quite upset himself.

    “Shit!!” he groaned in a strained voice. “How did this happen? If these two can’t stay together, damn it, then how the hell is there hope for anyone else?!”

    He stood.

    “Shiro –” Madeline interjected.

    “I…this can’t be happing,” Shiro muttered. “There’s just no way this can be happening.”

    With that, he walked off into the darkness. Matt’s green eyes followed him until they could no more, then turned to the black-haired girl leaning against his chest.

    Bee wasn’t used to the mood swings…or the violence. She particularly hated fire. It reminded her of the fact that her father died fighting fires, she said. Matthew already had an idea of the others’ world, but Mariah…she was an outsider. She didn’t know until today. Now Matthew was left pondering his burden of how to explain all of this to her…but to be honest, he really couldn’t. He’d spent so much time running from it, he didn’t really know what ‘it’ was. All he could do now was hold her – provide some semblance of comfort as her world as she knew it came crashing down around her. She had never been threatened by soldiers, or had a supernatural sword fight occur right in front of her. She had never watched one human being cut another’s eye out of its socket and then tread it underfoot. She had never seen so much blood in her life.

    Another girl sat beside him…really his very image.

    His twin sister.

    “You scared me,” she said. “If Travis and Katrina hadn’t shown up, who knows what would have…”

    “I would have gotten myself killed, obviously,” Matt said a bit harshly.

    “Don’t you care about your own life?” Madeline asked desperately.

    “Of course I do…” Matt replied. “I just care about hers…and yours…more.”

    A silence followed Matt’s response.

    “How’s Taylor?” Matt asked. Madeline looked away from him.

    Taylor was Matt and Madeline’s mother, who lived by herself in Cherrygrove City now that all living members of her family were somewhere else. Matt blamed her for the family problems that had led to their parents’ divorce…and he was mostly right. In any case, this made him so disdainful of her (as well as his father for leaving) that he had resorted to calling them both by their first names when not in their presence.

    “She’s really not handling the empty nest thing well at all,” Madeline said.

    “Still got those bottles and pills around, huh?” Matt asked. “If I was coming to the realization that I’d ripped my entire family to shreds, I’d be depressed, too.”

    “I saw Dad,” Madeline commented after a while.

    “He still living in Pummelo?” Matt questioned, distractedly stroking his girlfriend’s hair as he did so. “Congratulations, by the way – I heard through the grapevine that you won out there.”

    “Yeah…but I’ve gotten to where I can’t stay in one place too long. It drives me up a wall,” Madeline replied. “So, right after I won, I went looking for him. He’s…he’s remarried now.”

    “I can’t say I’d blame him,” Matt replied blankly. “I want to know what the hell he was thinking marrying Taylor in the first place.”

    “He didn’t know who I was at first. He said it was because you weren’t with me,” Madeline replied with a bitter smile. “When we were little, we did everything together – remember?”

    “Yeah…” Matt sighed nostalgically. “You were the tough one, I was the crybaby…”

    “You don’t cry so much anymore,” Madeline commented.

    “That’s because I can’t,” Matthew said. Looking down at the girl in his arms, he said, “I’ve gotta be the tough one now…especially since you guys are all I have left.”

    Madeline looked at Matt.

    “I’ve accepted the fact that I’m never going to have a normal family,” Matt muttered mournfully. “I just have to make the best of what I have – no matter how much it hurts me.”

    Madeline opened her mouth to say something and then stood.

    “I’ve forgiven our mom,” she said. “You should, too.”

    “Really?” Matt looked up at Madeline, and his eyes were glinting. “Maybe it never crossed your mind that Taylor’s the reason the rest of our family ran away. If she had just let them become Trainers in the first place, they would have done that instead of running off to that Angelos freak. They wouldn’t have gotten involved with AURA, and they’d still be alive!”

    Madeline could only respond with silence.

    “Don’t tell me to forgive that *****,” he growled, his brown and blond hair falling in a disheveled curtain over his shining, emerald eyes. “I won’t. Ever.”

    Madeline strode off, leaving Matt alone with the sleeping Mariah. He held her close to him and closed his eyes, as streams began to flow from each eyelid in a silent release of pain.

    Madeline sat down, this time next to Katrina, who had been crying so much that her face looked matted and two streaks of brown led from each of her eyes to her chin. It looked almost like her hair had grayed a shade or two. Even in her worst moments, she had been beautiful, but now it seemed that even that beauty had been violently stripped from her. She was no longer shedding tears; it seemed as if her eyes had exhausted themselves of all available resources to do so, causing her to resort to ragged breathing and dry hiccups and sobs.

    “What’s happened to you two?” Madeline asked.

    “After the war…” Katrina finally spoke for what had to be the first time in hours. Her voice was hoarse from crying and from lack of use. “Travis never really recovered. He’d still have nightmares, and his mood swings were worse than ever.”

    “…And now there’s another war about to start here,” Madeline said.

    Katrina nodded silently.

    “I really thought he was on his way,” she choked. “You know…to getting better. He’d have his bad days, but the last week or so, he’s been happier than I’ve seen him since Blackthorn City. I think it was because he was finally fighting on his own terms. He held me all last night…”

    She lifted her head (which seemed to take all the strength in her body) and pointed her chin at Matthew and Mariah by way of providing an example.

    “So, what went wrong?” Madeline asked.

    “I don’t know everything,” Katrina said, shaking her head vehemently. “It started this morning. Travis suggested we spend a few hours training alone. I don’t like it much, but sometimes when we travel in a group like we’ve been doing, wild Pokémon will hide from us. We were supposed to meet at a certain spot to set up camp and have dinner. So, I was off by myself a few hours ago…”


    Arcus hit the ground and skidded before rolling to his feet.

    “<Ach…damn – my fur!!>” the Arcidane groaned, looking at the fact that volcanic ash had peppered his coat, making him look like he’d just aged about a half-century. He gazed across the ash-covered field at a creature that looked a bit like an antelope. It had long, curving horns of a brown color, and the entirety of his fur was dark gray with the exception of his hooves, which were white and looked quite hard.

    “<Stop being such a prima donna, Arcus,>” Crescent groaned in frustration.

    “<Mind your business!>” Arcus barked.

    “Arcus, use your Aurora Beam!” Katrina ordered. Arcus reared back immediately and launched a rainbow-colored beam at the opposing Pokémon. Katrina had scanned him with her Pokédex and found him to be one of the newly-discovered species. The Pokémon standing before her was known as Georyx and was a pure Ground-type – perhaps very useful in her upcoming battle with Flannery in Lavaridge.

    Georyx, showing uncharacteristic agility, jumped aside as the beam missed his face by mere inches. He lowered his head and charged in a straight line, bellowing in his native tongue.

    “<Hey, watch out!>” Crescent shouted in warning.

    “<Screw off!>” Arcus brought a hard claw across the passing Georyx’s face as the former jumped aside. Georyx was knocked off his feet and quickly rolled back onto them as Arcus slid backward. “<Oh…damn!>”

    “<How lucky,>” Crescent commented.

    Georyx reared back onto his hind legs, bellowing loudly. He stomped into the ground as amber waves of energy emanated from his hooves and the ground began to shake.

    Katrina crouched slightly to maintain her balance. “Arcus, watch out! That’s Magnitude!”

    “<Wh-whoa!!>” Crescent groaned.

    Arcus jumped left as a dangerous-looking spire of earth shot forth from the ash-covered ground, nearly impaling him. Arcus reared his head back and, unbidden, launched an Ice Beam at the feet of the oryx-like creature, causing him to leap back in surprise. Arcus circled the gray-coated Ground-type, continuing to fire the arctic energy from his mouth. Georyx looked to dodge…and then found, to his great horror, that he was on the lone island of ash in a frozen sea…

    “<He’s stuck,>” Crescent commented.

    “Cut him down!” Katrina ordered. Arcus launched himself into a dive at Georyx’s ankles, swiping his claws at the feet of the young Antelope Pokémon and taking the latter’s bony legs out from under him. As Arcus rolled to his feet, Georyx fell to his flank. Katrina, acting quickly, pulled one of the empty Pokéballs from her pocket. “Go!”

    She launched it at the Georyx, who almost resignedly eyed the ball as it neared him and then hit him. As he was converted to crimson energy and pulled inside the red-and-white capture sphere, the last look that his purple eyes gave Katrina was calm, almost stoic. The ball stood alone on the ice, shaking once…twice…

    PING.

    “<Mind retrieving our new teammate, Arcus?>” Crescent asked.

    “<Fine, fine…don’t rush me,>” Arcus said lazily, meandering over to where the ball sat and clamping his jaws upon it, being careful not to crush the ball (and therefore, the Pokémon inside) with the force of his bite. Sprinting over to Katrina, he reared his head back, vaulting the ball from his mouth into the air, where Katrina caught it, minimized it, and put it back on her belt.

    “That was productive,” Katrina said with a smile. Then, she heard a scream, loud and clear as a bell. “What was that?!

    “<…the hell?>” Arcus muttered.

    “<No idea,>” Crescent the Umbreon stared in the general direction of the scream.

    “<Did you pick it up?>” Arcus asked. “<Granted, with ears that size, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if you had…>”

    “<Stuff it, Arcus,>” Crescent answered flatly. His ears (which were indeed prominent although Arcus’ comment was rather uncalled for) pointed in the general direction of the scream. “<’Shi…ro’.>”

    “What did you say?!” Katrina almost yelled.

    “<’Shiro’,>” Crescent said, still oblivious for a moment. Seconds later, a look in his eyes made it all too clear that a light had switched on somewhere. “<Hey, don’t we know someone named –>”

    “Of course we do! Let’s go!” Katrina took off in that direction at a run. Crescent followed, with Arcus bringing up the rear.

    “<Wait – damn it!>” he shouted in annoyance. “<I’m still trying to catch my breath – get the hell back here!!>”

    They ran for a solid five minutes until they arrived at the base of a tree near a clearing. As Arcus got there (last, of course) he saw Katrina and Crescent peering around this dead tree. She could vaguely see anything but one form that looked to be radiating dark fire…

    …Two young men with red hair – the hair on the unconscious one was short, on the one standing, long…

    …A fearful-looking young woman standing behind the tall, red-haired man in the black coat.

    Red-haired man…

    Black coat…

    Her heart jolted –

    “Darris,” she growled to herself.

    “<Darris? Who the hell’s…>” Arcus never got to finish his question, as he and Crescent were both sucked into their respective Pokéballs simultaneously.

    “<Wait a second!>” Crescent shouted as the crimson light engulfed him. “<I had something really important I needed to –>”

    Katrina attached these two Pokéballs back onto her belt, conjuring her Aurillian rod in her right hand. She took aim at Darris – if she got a good shot in right at his heart, it would at the very least incapacitate him enough for all of them to get away…

    …but what about the young woman? What if she missed and hit her? Who was she? Was she a hostage of Darris’? Was she a comrade?

    She looked innocent, at the very least…

    Katrina couldn’t risk harming her.

    She took careful aim – around Travis’ head, at Darris’ chest…

    And fired.


    He stood atop a cliff, reflecting on what he had just done.

    Unbelievable! I can’t believe you would just up and ditch her like that!

    There was nothing that could be done about it.

    But you loved her!

    Of course you did – that’s why you had to let her go.

    But what about you?

    Stop being so selfish! What about her?

    Wouldn’t she want you with her?

    She didn’t see your dream – she has no idea what you could turn out to be!

    You’re a monster for hurting her.

    You’d have hurt her even worse if you had stayed. You might have even killed her.

    What’s to say she won’t do it herself, now that you’re gone?

    You’re a monster.

    Monster.

    You’re a monster.

    MONSTER.

    MONSTER.

    MONSTER.

    YOU’RE A MONSTER.

    YOU’RE A MONSTER.

    More than a man…

    LESS THAN A MAN…

    MONSTER!


    “Shut up!” he yelled to no one in particular, trying to quiet the warped-sounding versions of himself in his own head. “SHUT THE HELL UP!”

    “That’s just rude – I haven’t even said anything yet,” a boy’s voice sounded behind him. He looked over his shoulder and a tall boy with short, flaming, crimson hair was ascending the path toward him. Travis racked his brains but couldn’t remember…

    He’s your friend from home…

    You’ve known each other since you were babies.

    You grew up together…
    …went to school together…
    …went everywhere together.

    He was even with you the first time you saw…
    …her.


    “Sorry…” Travis shook his head. The boy looked serious – mournful. “You having issues too, huh? You look like you’ve lost your best friend.”

    “Might have…” the red-haired boy sidled up to him. “…seeing as he doesn’t seem to recognize me.”

    “…Shiro?” Travis finally croaked.

    “It’s the haircut, isn’t it?” Shiro laughed – a fake, plastic laugh that could have been wiped away with the tiniest thought. “Guess I let Madeline talk me into one thing too many. Looks like I got here just in time.”

    With that, he pounced, his false humor abandoned entirely. Too quick for Travis to react, Shiro had him hanging a couple of feet off the ground by his shirt, which the son of Arvos had gripped in both of his strong hands.

    “You love Katrina,” Shiro said through gritted teeth, “You love her. You’ve been in love with her ever since we were six years old. The first thing you asked me after we left that party was if I thought she was pretty. Then I laughed at you. I made that face and said you had cooties. Do you remember that, huh? Do you remember?! HUH?!”

    He threw Travis to the ground. The blue-haired boy hit his bottom passively. On the other hand, Shiro was anything but passive-looking, his teeth bared and his golden eyes glinting dangerously.

    “What…in…the…(If this word were written, it would have been done with four capital letters. Moreover, a tree in a nearby forest just came down, sending all manner of Taillow and Swellow scattering and flapping their wings to safety in other nearby, sylvan abodes.)…got into you?!” Shiro shouted, putting such forceful emphasis on the swearword that a mushroom cloud might have just left a small crater in the Sand of Khalid. “Why would you just up and leave like you don’t care about her anymore?”

    “I do care about her,” Travis said. “That’s why I’m going.”

    “That’s ********,” Shiro spat. “You should see the way you left her back there. She’s an absolute wreck!”

    “She’ll thank me later,” Travis muttered.

    “ ‘She’ll thank me later’,” Shiro muttered. “Do you honestly believe that?”

    “Yeah,” Travis replied, sitting up. “Yeah, I do.”

    “What’s your angle?” Shiro questioned, throwing up his hands in disbelief. “Please…tell me what possessed you to leave Katrina, because I can’t think of one damn reason why she deserved that!!”

    Travis looked at Shiro, a bit of the hardness returning to his eyes. “I had a dream.”

    “A dream,” Shiro looked like he was beside himself with incredulity. In fact, he allowed himself a quiet laugh. “A dream. What the (same word) kind of dream would make you leave someone you love that much?”

    Travis looked away, as if he was too soiled, too unworthy to stare into the eyes of another human being.

    “I had a dream that I killed her,” he said. His face contorted with the thought of it and his eyes began to water. “I was too mad with power…too much hate – darkness – and…and I killed her.”

    He looked at Shiro, his eyes now streaming and desperate.

    “I don’t want to hurt her! I don’t know what else to do anymore, but I can’t control it!” Travis shouted. “I thought I was strong enough, but I’m not! I’d never forgive myself if I did anything to hurt her!”

    “Really? That’s ironic,” Shiro said disdainfully. “What do you think you’re doing now?”

    “Choosing the lesser of two evils!” Travis shouted, standing up. Just as quickly as he’d stood, he was back down again – victim of a vicious right hook from a boy that had once been his best friend but now seemed to hate the very core of him.

    “Don’t be a *******!” Shiro shouted. “You went through a lot – we all did. So I can’t really blame you for how...how ****ed up your head is right now. But you didn’t let Angelos own you then – why the hell are you going to let him own you now that he’s dead? You’re wasting your energy fighting a memory that wouldn’t come back if you’d just let it go!!”

    “Don’t you realize how hard it is to move on from something like that?” Travis snarled, wiping a trickle of blood from his face.

    “Did I ever say it was easy?” Shiro responded. “Choosing to leave the one person that’s kept your head on straight through all of this **** and just going crazy – that’s easy. Choosing to stay and refusing to turn into a monster – that’s hard.”

    Travis remained silent for a moment. Shiro’s scowl subsided and was replaced by a pitying smile. How odd.

    “Choice is yours, bud,” Shiro, with a bit of the air of an older brother, ruffled the front of Travis’ hair, rendering it wild and slightly more disheveled than it had been. Travis watched as the red head disappeared down the mountain.


    Katrina was now the only one awake back at the camp. She stared blankly at and through the fire. Mariah was still comfortably in the arms of Matthew, who had fallen asleep as well. Madeline had eventually gone to bed once she could glean no more information from Katrina. She had someone, too…

    But Katrina was here…by herself now. All alone.

    Nothing she could have done would have prepared her for this…

    …because nothing she could have done would have stopped it.

    Over the last hours, she had come face-to-face with a painful truth – she would have done it all over again. If she could go back a couple of years and have a choice at accepting his forgiveness…

    A choice at kissing him under that moonlit sky…

    A choice at helping him fight Angelos…and then being there every day and most nights through his miraculous rehabilitation…stepping proudly onto and then off the small ship that bore them here…living through each up, down, laugh, tear, moment of war, moment of peace…

    She would have done it all over again – because she loved him.

    And, apparently, she still would have ended up here.

    She flicked her hair out from in front of her eyes, sighing mournfully. Truth be told, she was mourning.

    A part of her had died, or was very close to death.

    She heard footsteps slightly to her right and looked in that direction. Shiro emerged from the shadow before too long. “You’re still awake, huh?”

    “I can’t sleep,” Katrina croaked.

    “Can’t say I’m surprised,” Shiro said. “Why don’t you go take a walk? Get your mind off of things? There’s a cliff a little ways from here that gives you a pretty good view of Lavaridge.”

    “I…think I’ll do that,” Katrina said, standing up. She lost her balance, swaying badly on the spot, and was about to fall until Shiro caught her with his long, strong arms.

    “On second thought…” Shiro sighed. “Maybe you should just go to bed.”

    “No – no, I’ll be okay,” Katrina replied morosely, weakly pushing Shiro’s arm from herself and walking into the shadows.

    Shiro sat down next to Madeline’s sleeping form. The right side of her head was toward the ground, revealing the few locks of hair that she had bleached a fair blonde. He smiled and put his hand down toward her face.

    “Stop…” she moaned. “Th-that…tickles…”

    Shiro cracked a half-smile as he watched her. In the two-year timespan since the Lineage War, Madeline hadn’t been Travis – thank goodness for that – but she had gone through several emotional phases nonetheless. Part of those, of course, were the normal growing pains of a girl entering womanhood…but the normal mood swings seemed to have been amplified several times over. She went through a time of anger at herself for being so weak, blaming herself for the deaths of her brother and sister. After that was over, she found within herself a resolve (perhaps even an unhealthy one) to be stronger. She asked for Shiro to teach her some of the basics of the hand-to-hand combat style he’d learned as a young boy. From there, she began to funnel all of her energy into helping others – trying to figure out their problems. There was a point during the journey through the Orange Islands where Shiro and Madeline could hardly stay in one place for long for Madeline’s desire to help someone find a lost Pokémon or recover a stolen item or deliver a package for a sick, old grandfather whose young grandson was too young to make the journey alone. It was at this phase that Madeline’s emotional state finally began to level out. She still thought about her brother and sister, and missed them very much, but she had finally found fulfillment in giving to others instead of (as she described it) constantly draining them.

    There was a point, very early in their friendship, when Shiro thought a relationship with Madeline to be something more of a prize to be won. Now, though, two years after meeting her, he had come to realize that it was a gift.

    She was a gift – his treasure.

    He smoothed back the hair on his head, bent down, and kissed her on the temple. A faint smile broke out across the girl’s lips as she slept on peacefully.

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  15. #265
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    Default Chapter 27 - Part 3

    ~~~ *** ~~~

    Katrina felt her way around the next tree and then the next. Her shoes stamped the ground, kicking up a small cloud of ash with each step…each step, which felt like an eternity.

    Hell.

    She was in hell. Physically alive, perhaps, but dead and in hell nonetheless.

    She staggered…and stumbled. She arose, her face white and her hair graying. It was dark. She held out her hand to summon her rod. Perhaps it would provide her with some light.

    …Nothing.

    She tried to concentrate harder. Still nothing. On top of everything else, she seemed to have lost her powers entirely.

    She walked on. She did not know where she was going…just that she had to keep going. If she stopped, she would go no further. If she fell, she would not rise again. It was this and this alone that kept her moving…slowly, almost zombie-like…but still moving.

    She opened her blue eyes. The light inside them had dimmed…but it was not out.



    His eyes peered over the cliff to the speckling of pinprick-sized lights that, collectively, were known as Lavaridge Town. He was supposed to be on his way there. He could go alone if he liked, now. But something kept him rooted to the spot just staring over the cliff at the place.

    It was almost like the Almighties themselves were preventing him from moving.

    His mind went back…

    Back…

    Back to when he was a boy – when rumors of war were not a constant ringing in his ears…when he did not have to wield a sword to defend justice…

    When his only trouble was dealing with his mother’s wish that he improve his fledgling social life…

    Find me here…

    The two little boys dodged the slack-covered, skirt-covered, and gown-garbed legs of the adults walking around the parlor of the huge house. Apparently, there was a little girl their age around here…but they couldn’t find her at all.

    “Man…” one little boy said, sounding very grumpy. “This sucks. How do you lose a little girl at her own party?”

    “She’s probably small, like us, and we just can’t find her,” the other said with a precocious sagacity, given his age.

    “Why are all of these grown-ups here?” the first boy asked. “Doesn’t this little girl have any friends?”

    “I don’t know,” the second replied sensibly. “Maybe we’ll be the first.”

    “Who said I wanted to be friends with a little rich girl, anyway?” the first boy asked, now sounding very irritated.

    “Give me three reasons why we shouldn’t be friends with her,” the second boy said, holding up that many fingers to his best friend much like a child would do in this situation.

    “Um…let’s see…she’s little, she’s rich, and, most of all, she’s a girl,” the first boy retorted with a bit of bite to his voice. “Do you want a girl hanging all over you and asking you to have tea parties and play with her dolls? She probably doesn’t even know what a comic book is!”

    The second boy remained silent as they came to a stop near a wall. The first boy leaned against it, looking rather like a rebellious teenager come ten years too early.

    “I hate this suit…” he muttered.

    “I don’t like dressing up, either, but I guess our moms want us to look nice for everybody,” the second boy sighed.

    …and speak to me…

    “OWWWWW!”

    Twittering madly, a cream-and-brown Pidgey fluttered all around the room, much to the excitement (and, in some cases, chagrin) of the second-year students, until a tall, lanky, bespectacled man fumbled inside his huge, white lab coat for a Pokéball and called it back into its ball.

    A pink-haired girl was left clutching her bloody hand and shaking with sobs of pain.

    “Oh, shoot,” the tall professor groaned in displeasure. “I’m so sorry. We should have done this outside – Pidgey don’t mind people, but they don’t like closed spaces where they can’t fly…”

    “Oh, suck it up!” a black-haired boy laughed. “Girls are such wusses…or maybe it’s just that you’re weak!”

    “Shut up, Nate,” a boy with wild, dark-blue hair, having approached the girl upon her being pecked, spoke up first after this comment. Both stared the sharpest daggers of doom and destruction at each other.

    “You think you’re tough because you’re sticking up for your girlfriend!” Nate laughed, bringing some of the other children in the class to laughter. Travis’ face was on fire. “What are you gonna do? Whisper me to death?”

    “Back off!” a shout came from behind Travis as a red-haired boy charged…

    “Enough arguing!” the professor shouted suddenly, grabbing the redhead and restraining him. “Travis, do you think you can take Katrina to the nurse’s to get that patched up?”

    “Okay,” Travis said to his teacher. He looked and gave Katrina a nod. She quickly followed.


    “Nate’s such a jerk,” Travis said to her when they were out in the one hallway of the small Academy. “I bet he wouldn’t be so tough if a Pidgey bit his hand.”

    Katrina didn’t respond. She continued to look at her own hand.

    “Thanks,” she said quickly, putting her hand down.

    “For what?” Travis asked.

    “For sticking up for me,” Katrina replied.

    “That’s what friends are for,” Travis affirmed.

    Katrina stopped and turned toward him. Travis’ footsteps ceased to echo off the hallway walls as well and there were a few seconds of awkward silence.

    She looked left, down the hall, furtively…

    Then encased him in a tight, almost strangling hug. Once he got over the awkwardness, he decided to hug back, just because he would have felt even worse if he had left her hanging.[/CENTER]

    I want to feel you…

    Three years passed, and the bonds that had held them together were not severed entirely, but strained and taut – severable at the slightest touch or false move.

    Today was Valentine’s Day, and up until last year, Travis and Katrina had given each other valentines as a mere formality (at least, that was what each assumed of the other). This year, however, saw Katrina walk in with someone completely different. Katrina was in a pink dress and had her hair curled. She looked even prettier than usual today, but Travis, sitting and watching her enter the parlor of her own home from a nearby table, wouldn’t have been able to walk up to her and tell her that even if he had somehow mustered the courage…

    …For she came in on the arm of one Nathaniel Elm, dressed in a funeral black – very ironic, because this Valentine’s Day should have been a special celebration for him of all people. It was his first Valentine’s Day with a girlfriend.

    Through the throng of visitors, from toddlers (some of whom were imitating their older counterparts in precocious, adorable fashion by holding hands with opposite-sex playmates) to one couple who had been married for nearly half a century, Katrina’s eyes met those of Travis. She gave him a mournful, regretful look. It seemed as if she should have been the one wearing black, for one reason or another. One he could see Katrina no more, Travis turned his attention to the soda he was drinking (his fourth in an hour – his mother would kill him if she ever found it) as well as Shiro, who was sitting across the other table from him. The girl he had asked to this party that Ms. Nikki (Katrina’s mother, who was known – perhaps even notorious – for her socialite ways and love of parties of any kind) was throwing at her home had turned him down and, in a tremendous twist of fate, asked Travis instead. Travis refused even to acknowledge her – he had other issues on his hands.

    A dry, slurping sound indicated that Shiro’s soda was now empty, or very close.

    “You should have said yes when Rebecca asked you,” Shiro said distractedly.

    “I don’t like Rebecca like that,” Travis retorted.

    “Do you like anyone like that?” Shiro asked. Travis paused for a second.

    “No,” he answered.

    Shiro smirked.

    “You’ve been staring at her ever since she walked in the room, dude,” he said, ruffling his own red hair to make it look even messier than usual. “Go say something to her.”

    “Things are different, now,” Travis said, shaking his head and continuing to stare at Nate and Katrina talking in the corner of the room.

    I need to hear you…

    Travis' walk took him past the beach by the sea - the same place where their battle would be held tomorrow. Gazing up at the sky, he saw that the vast expanse was no longer inhabited by the sun, but now a silver ball of light was coming into view thousands of miles above him. Finding a bench of sorts, he sat down on it. He couldn't go on right now. He would take a break...for a few seconds.

    "Can't sleep?" A girl's voice said. Travis looked up to see Katrina striding over to him, looking much, much calmer than when he had seen her last. Katrina sat down beside Travis, making him a bit nervous. Was she still angry about him holding her back?

    "I'm just...thinking about lots of stuff," answered Travis, beginning to stand up. Soon, however, he found himself eased back into his seat by Katrina.

    "When we were out there.in the forest, I mean," Katrina began to explain, "You told me to 'let it go'. Something tells me that you didn't do it yourself, though."

    "Maybe I didn't," commented Travis, attempting to stand up again.

    "Wait. Slow down," Katrina said, grabbing Travis' left shoulder and forcing him back down onto the bench. "I'm sorry about how I acted before. I'm glad you held me back. Otherwise I would have done something really dumb. You know how I get when he talks about..."

    "No problem," Travis muttered sadly, his facial expression still unchanged.

    "I know you wanted to be a peacemaker. You've been like that for as long as I can remember," Katrina said, "But...now it's just too much for any one person to think about."

    "I don't have any choice. No one else does," Travis replied.

    "I do," said Katrina. “How do you think I feel? You try to feel other people’s pain, but can you, really? You’re not me.”

    "I guess you’re right," said Travis. He suddenly remembered that when Nate moved in, Katrina, Shiro, and Travis were all good friends. Shiro liked the fact that Katrina could 'hang with the guys', and if he remembered correctly, Katrina liked Shiro's seemingly rock-music-driven attitude and style. Then Nate and Katrina started hanging out. Travis could see that Nate wasn't very nice because he was rich and "snooty," as Shiro liked to call him. Nate and Katrina became closer, and Travis and Shiro started to dislike Katrina for even being around Nate. Then, one day…

    "Travis, what's wrong?" asked Katrina.Travis didn't answer for a second, but then said sadly, "He broke your heart."

    Katrina must have known what he was referring to, because she responded, "No, you're wrong. Nate didn't break my heart. He tried to buy it, and that's why I don't like him. It was the two of you - no, just Shiro - that broke it."

    "I remember that day perfectly," said Travis. "It was a Saturday in the middle of July...last July. Shiro and I were at the arcade, like we normally were, when you came in. You were a real wreck, and you kept saying that you and Nate weren't friends anymore. I guess what you were saying is that you wanted to come back with us. I was still a bit mad, so I didn't say anything. Shiro, though...he completely lost it and started yelling at you. It was like we were strangers from that point. I guess he never forgave you for leaving us for Nate. But I wanted to let you back in...believe me. But Shiro would’ve been angry with me, then..."

    "All four of us would just hate each other, right?" Katrina said."Nothing would have been solved...but now things are almost set right again,” Travis added. “Once Shiro comes to his senses...”

    “I don’t know what to think about Shiro anymore...” Katrina muttered. “I mean, sometimes it seems like he’s looking more for followers than friends. I think he’s afraid of being the ‘sidekick’ instead of the ‘hero’...”

    “You shouldn’t say that,” Travis replied, trying as always to see both sides of the story, “especially if you’re calling me a ‘hero’. I’m nothing extraordinary. I’m just an average joe from New Bark Town.”

    “You’re such a modest idiot,” Katrina whispered. It isn’t so easy to hear someone’s voice break when they whisper, but Travis heard it as sure as the moon was in the sky. He took another look at her and was shocked to see that her eyes were filling with tears. Travis grew suddenly irritated and stood up.

    “Look, I don’t want to be a hero,” he said with a sigh, trying to soften his tone as much as possible, seeing as his statement was probably something that Katrina didn’t want to hear. “I’m not...I’m just me...just Travis...”

    “That’s the beauty of it,” Katrina sighed, standing up and placing her hands on Travis’ shoulders. Despite her watery eyes, she was smiling. “You don’t try. It’s in your nature. Everyone that knows you knows that. Your family, Shiro...Nate knows it, too. That’s why he doesn’t like you. Because you’re what he can’t be...to everyone...to me...but your weakness...”

    “How do you know so much about me? For nearly a year and a half, we’ve hardly said two words to each other,” Travis muttered, walking toward the water. The moon, which was in its crescent stage, was dotted by two stars on the inside of the curve, besides the ones that spangled the sky. Travis turned his head sideways. It was as if Heaven itself were smiling at him. He suddenly felt another hand in his left hand. Katrina had walked up to join him. The moon was casting a cerulean glow over the sand and making the waves shine with its white reflection.

    “Why? Because you were afraid that you would make things worse for everyone,” Katrina answered her own question. “You try to carry the world on your shoulders. I don’t mean that in a bad way - you’re not arrogant, you’ve never been. You just prefer to take everything upon yourself, so no one has to suffer. But what if someone wants to suffer with you? You try to carry the world, but what about the people that want to carry you? There’s so much that you don’t tell people about that you need to...like AURA, for instance.”

    “You know about AURA?” Travis said incredulously. Suddenly, his eyes stiffened, and he said to Katrina with nearly paternal sternness, “Just promise me, that whatever you know or whatever you find out...”

    “I’m not making any promises, except that I’ll do whatever it takes to help you,” Katrina cut him off. Travis looked away, sighing disappointedly.


    Now Katrina was going to involve herself. If these AURA guys were anywhere near as dangerous as he’d heard – if they equaled, even exceeded the evil of Team Rocket – it was no situation for Katrina to be in. What if something happened to her? Travis would never, ever forgive himself if she was...

    Without warning, Katrina leaned over closer to him. He felt something warm and slightly wet on his left cheek. It stayed there for a few seconds and then withdrew itself. Travis looked out of the corner of his eye just in time to see Katrina move her face away from his. Travis didn't know what to think. Katrina had kissed him!

    "Consider that an apology for everything that's happened between us over the past few years," Katrina said. She wasn't blushing at all. It was if she had done something...normal.

    "That's alright," said Travis, looking straight at the moon so Katrina wouldn't see his face go beet-red just above the nose. "But, what about AURA?"

    "AURA?" Katrina repeated, then giggled a bit. "I say, bring 'em on. They can't beat the both of us."Travis turned toward her finally, "So you'll help...no matter how much I try to talk you out of it?"

    "Sure will!" Katrina answered…

    You are the light…

    “Will the candidate for Queen please kneel?” The master finally spoke, and everything went quiet, save for a few hushed whispers once the crowd realized that Travis (and not Rondell) had the tiara. Travis approached Katrina and knelt in front of her.

    “You deserve this more than anyone I know,” he said, placing the tiara on Katrina’s head perfectly and standing up.

    “May I present to you...the King and Queen of the 142nd Golden Moon Festival!” The master of ceremonies shouted. Travis helped Katrina to her feet and heard a sniffle. When Katrina looked at him, tears were welling up in her eyes again. Travis wiped them away with his own hand and looked straight at her. There was nothing else to explain. All that was left was to say it.

    “I love you,” he said.

    Katrina looked shocked for about a second, then her lip began to quiver. Travis inched closer and Katrina met him, kissing him right on the lips.

    …that’s leading me…

    Shiro opened his eyes. He had meant to just doze off for a few minutes and was shocked to find the reddish light of a summer sunrise falling through the trees above. He sat straight up and looked around. Next to him was the brunette Madeline, who hadn’t awakened yet. It was clear that Lorca was just getting up as well. Katrina, however, was looking in the direction of the Burned Tower ruin, almost as if she’d been standing there for hours.


    “Katrina!” Shiro ran over to where she was.

    She didn’t look at him, but only responded with, “Good morning.”

    At that, Katrina and Shiro heard some footsteps – stumbling, staggering ones. Katrina looked straight ahead and saw a form wearing a long coat come out of the ruin with a Pokemon beside him. Before Shiro could stop her, Katrina broke into a full sprint toward the boy. She thought to throw her arms around him, but stopped. He had a blank, almost cathartic look in his eyes as he turned to look at her.

    “Hey,” Katrina whispered with the air of someone trying to put on a brave face for a loved one that was known to be in his last moments. With her eyes watering, she inched up to Travis’ face to try to kiss him, but was shocked when he turned his head away from her. His eyes were downcast and a bit cold.

    “I’m sorry,” he said finally. “I know I made you miserable and worried for the last couple of days. You deserve a lot better.”

    “It’s alright,” Katrina said. “A lot’s been on your...”

    “I was just making excuses. I’ve been watching what could be the best summer of our lives go by,” Travis said. “But now...now that I’ve got this sword, I don’t need to worry that much. I can live like a normal human being for once. Everything’s going to be better from now on. I promise.”

    “So,” Katrina replied, grabbing one of Travis’ hands in both of her own, “After all this time, you finally listened to me. Even heroes only live once.”

    Travis smiled and looked up.

    “I probably don’t need to tell you this,” he heard Shiro say as the redhead approached him with Madeline (who had just gotten up to see what the heck was going on) hanging on his shoulder. “But Katrina’s alive and well.”

    “Looks like everyone’s fine,” Travis said. “What’s next on my to-do list...get the badge...get the sword...get the cold shoulder from the Grand Council. That’s about it. Oh, and I also have to give this jacket back to Grandpa.”

    “I thought he said you could keep it?” Katrina interjected.

    “It makes me look too uptight,” Travis countered. “Besides, it’s about ninety degrees out this time of year. I guess I’ll just stow it somewhere.”

    Travis removed the jacket, leaving himself wearing his blue-and-gold jumpsuit – more than enough for this type of weather.

    “Well, we’re going back to the Center, washing up, and then checking out,” Shiro said. “The next gym is in Olivine, y’know.”

    “Olivine’s the best beach city in the world!” Katrina exclaimed. “I can’t wait!”

    “Well, I guess it’s Olivine next,” Travis said. “Let’s all go together, since we’re going to the same place. How’s that sound??”

    “Sounds good to me,” Shiro replied.

    “I don’t mind too much,” Madeline said with a shrug of her shoulders.

    “And what about you?” Travis asked, speaking to Lorca.
    “Well, I’m definitely going with you guys, fifth wheel or not,” Lorca replied.

    “What about your job?” Katrina asked.

    “I need a vacation,” Lorca muttered. “And besides, it’s not like they notice me when I’m there, anyways. Plus, there’s some stuff that I want to investigate...” He took a pointed look at Shiro as he said this, which the latter didn’t see but Travis did.

    “Well, it’s settled,” Travis said. “We’re all going back to the Center to get ourselves ready, and then it’s off to Olivine this afternoon at...well, what time is it now?”

    “It’s just about 8:00,” Shiro said, tapping his watch. “If this damn thing is working right. Marco spilled orange juice in my watch, too...”

    “Geez...” Travis muttered. “Well, how’s 2:00 sound? Six hours should be enough for everybody, right?”

    Everyone nodded in turn. Travis smiled. The sword attached to his belt was a constant reminder of what he would have to do eventually, but he had a comfort level which probably wasn’t too far off of how his grandfather would feel if he received a bill in the mail for 500 Pokedollars. He had the means to do what he needed to, so there was no use worrying about it. He was going to Olivine City now with an entirely different focus. As long as AURA stayed away, they wouldn’t be his center of attention. And if they ever did end up being his center of attention...

    It would be their loss.

    To the place…

    He leaned forward, through the screaming and the crying in his brain, and started to fly as one ear-piercing shriek rattled the inside of his head like a horrific earthquake...

    And then he stopped flying. Two arms were around him, stopping him from leaving the cliff and holding
    him and two weapons. To his left, he saw his sword, the Sacred Flame, burning slightly, although not as brightly as it would if he were to hold it. On the other side, the weapon was more bizarre – it was a white rod – at least five feet long, and it ended in a golden crescent moon shape with a mysterious, pearl-like sphere suspended at its center.

    Naturally...someone had to try to stop him. He couldn’t even die in peace. How irritating. He felt warmth from what had to be the body to the arms behind him. This warmth encompassed him for a brief second, taking away all the cold and the wet from the rain in which he had been standing for several hours. Just as suddenly, though, this warmth was broken, and Travis felt himself being thrown alongside to the ground. Both weapons parted ways, and the form – Travis couldn’t see who it was through the rain – rolled off first. Each one (the other person was now closer to the edge of the cliff than he) was close to his weapon.


    And each one picked up their own weapon. Travis, the black fire beginning to burn away at him already, took a swing with his sword. The form, brandishing its staff, adroitly dodged, causing Travis to overextend himself. Pivoting, Travis roared and swung his sword once at the form, who blocked with the white-and-gold staff. He swung again.

    The form blocked again.

    He swung a third time.

    The form blocked a third time.

    Roaring, he summoned as much of the power from the Sacred Flame as his body and spirit could take with the sword acting as it was, and lashed out one last, flame-covered slash at the small form. A white barrier briefly surrounded the form before it was knocked backward by the sheer force of the blow. It skidded for several yards and, when it came to a stop, its head was down. A head with a curtain of long hair that had been soaked by the rains. The form’s head snapped up, and all of the hair –

    Rose-pink hair...

    Flew to the back of her head, revealing baby-blue eyes that had the very epitome of a gentle flame hidden behind them.

    Overcome with a terrible and cataclysmic clash of emotions, he dropped the sword and fell to his knees, tears flowing from his face and sobbing uncontrollably. Katrina threw her rod aside as it vanished into several hundred points of light that looked like fireflies following her, and sprinted to where Travis knelt, face nearly in the dirt, and knelt right in front of him.

    She was...alive...and she had held off his rage and madness again...

    “I’m tired...” he groaned. “I’m tired, can’t you understand? I’m tired of crying, I’m tired of the pain, I’m tired of all of those nights that I don’t sleep because I wonder if all of us will survive the next day...”

    “Believe me,” she caressed his face with a gentle hand and prompted him to raise his head, so that he could see her face again for the first time. “I know better than anyone.”

    “...but you stopped me...” Travis sighed. “You – you saved me.”

    “That is my burden,” she replied, “It’s my destiny to save the savior from himself.”

    …where I find peace…

    He looked up at a white wall. This bedroom was pretty small compared to what he’d been sleeping in for the last month, but with the closet and the mats and things arranged in a very familiar pattern, he would have given the entire summer’s worth of sleeping in that bed for a night here...

    This was his room – his town...

    His home.

    He sat up on the bed and immediately groaned in pain. It felt like about eight parts of his body were in agony all at the same time – but, somehow, he’d felt worse. He also noticed at this point that about half of his body in total was in a cast or a bandage of some point. He also noticed that he had two bandages running parallel on the left side of his face.

    “Calm down,” a female voice said next to him. He turned around to see a beautiful face curtained in rose-pink hair – and watering, baby-blue eyes staring right into his. “You got...messed up pretty bad. I think it was...Doctor Audrey told me –“

    He’d heard that name before.

    “Femur...that’s in about five places – that’s why your leg’s hurting like all hell, if you were wondering...” Katrina said. “And two ribs, and your right wrist. He said, falling from a hundred feet up, you got off really easy.”

    “What’s going on?” Travis asked, rather unconcerned about how badly he was hurt right now. “Where is everyone – why are we –“

    “All of our friends are alive...” Katrina sighed. “The casualties weren’t as bad as we thought they’d be, but it was pretty ugly – out of five hundred, not counting our friends...twenty-seven dead, 218 with serious injuries...but...Travis...”

    Travis looked at her.

    “We won,” she said. “You’re awake. The nightmare is over.”

    He turned his head away from her, toward the window. Tears were running down his face as he sobbed as silently as he could – but he could not hide his pain this time. His entire, banged-up, scarred-up body and soul were trembling as one.

    “We’re home,” Katrina whispered, embracing Travis and placing her head on top of his as she failed to hold back two silent tears of her own. Travis, feeling her arms, their safety and comfort...allowed the walls to come down, abandoned all semblance of dignity. His wails bounced off of the walls in this room – his cries carried outside for the whole house...and perhaps the whole world...to hear. But he didn’t care anymore. No one could fully comprehend the hell that he had been through. No one could understand the pain that he had felt. The restless days, the sleepless nights...the time he almost gave up all hope and was literally a second away from ending it all...

    And her arms had been around him then...

    As they were now.

    No one could understand. No one...but her.

    Again.


    This cliff looked a lot like that one…the one he had nearly jumped two years ago to end his own life…

    …The cliff that would have surely been the premature end of his story if it weren’t for her.

    “What’s wrong with you?” he whispered, hot tears immediately beginning to run down his face. “I don’t understand. Why would you love someone like me? I’ve done nothing but hurt you all this time…by something I did or something I should have done and didn’t…trying to act like I didn’t need you – like it’d just be easier for me if I could fight this on my own. But you were the only one keeping my head on straight…”

    He sighed and fell back to a supine position, buried his face in his arms to wipe his tears away, and then removed them. A girl with back-length, pink hair and a pretty (although tear-stained) face was looking back at him.

    “No…” he whispered. “You’re not here…I’m dreaming again…”

    “I’m here…” she whispered. “I just started walking away from camp…then I wound up here. I guess…I guess it’s ‘Fate’ or something…”

    “I…I…I want you to go back,” Travis finally said. “Do you remember that dream you had about me? A long time ago? I don’t want that to happen. I don’t want my dark side to take me over and then end up killing you.”

    “That was all? That was all this was about? I thought you’d understand by now,” Katrina answered, sounding disappointed. “I made the decision a long time ago that I’d run that risk. If I’m going to die either way, that way’s quicker, isn’t it?”

    Travis looked up at her – looked into her eyes for the first time in what had seemed like eternity.

    “I die without you,” she said simply. Travis looked down again and began to sob silently. All at once, Katrina’s hand was under his chin, lifting it up to look into her eyes, and with her other hand she was wiping his tears away. “Stop…stop crying.”

    “You saved my life,” Travis finally said. “You saved my life and I can’t repay you.”

    “You saved me a long time ago,” Katrina answered. “There was a time when I didn’t care anymore because I thought I was an accident…but you gave me…a reason to be alive. You saved me, too, and I don’t feel like I can repay you. So, there’s no use playing this game anymore.”

    “What game?” Travis asked, going to look away from her again but having his face pulled back in her direction.

    “It’s like…this whole time, you’ve been trying to find reasons why we shouldn’t be together,” Katrina commented. “Do you love me?”

    “Yes,” Travis said. “I love you.”

    “We have to see this through to the end,” Katrina whispered. “We’re meant to be together.”

    Katrina grabbed his shoulders and inched her body and face up to his. She did it slowly, tentatively, almost as if she were waiting for him to stop her.

    Their lips touched, embraced, then broke apart.

    “Will you stay with me?” she asked, sitting down on his legs.

    “Forever,” Travis promised. He looked up at the sky…and could have sworn that, in the moon, he’d seen the smiling face of a young woman, a face curtained with black hair…

    “What happened? Did you see another shooting star?” Katrina asked.

    “No…” Travis shook his head, leaning against her and putting his arms around her.

    There were easy decisions and there were hard decisions. Choosing to die for another was easy – a decision that could be made out of passion in the heat of a moment. Choosing to live for another was hard – a decision that had to be renewed every minute of every hour of every day.

    Choosing to surrender of the darkness within was an easy decision, for it could be achieved through total inaction. Choosing to fight that darkness daily, however, for the one you love.

    That was a decision that was difficult.

    But the more difficult road brings the greater reward.



    Kenjiro walked along the empty streets of Lavaridge Town until he reached the solitary stone bridge that overlooked the crystal-clear water at the town’s limits. The wet blackness beneath him shone with streaks of white from the unabated light of the crescent moon thousands of miles above.

    “I found you,” a girl’s voice snapped Kenjiro out of his daydream. He pushed himself away from the railing and looked to his left. Standing on the bridge was a young woman in her later teens with a head of blazing, dark red hair. Kenjiro’s heart leapt into his throat.

    “Reivyn?” he said hoarsely. “What are you doing here? Where are the others?”

    “They were taking too long,” Reivyn said simply. Kenjiro began to approach her but stopped. “What’s wrong? Aren’t you happy to see me?”

    “I am,” Kenjiro replied unconvincingly. “I just didn’t want to make you uncomf—”

    Reivyn ran into him and hugged him – less of a hug, more of a tackle, actually. After a few seconds of staring at her in amazement, Kenjiro put his arms around her. Less expected (but certainly not less welcome) was what happened next. Reivyn stood up on her tiptoes and, her shining, silver eyes blocked by their lids, moved her lips up to touch Kenjiro’s. He accepted the kiss and, as her gesture of affection became more passionate, slowly began to return it. She broke apart after much longer than he’d expected and received a smile from her.

    “Your arm…it’s hurt,” Kenjiro muttered.

    “I’m fine,” Reivyn said.

    “Let’s get inside,” Kenjiro said, taking Reivyn’s hand. Reivyn showed a rare grin.

    “You missed me, didn’t you?” she asked.

    Kenjiro smiled, and the two of them made their way back into the town.



    If you’ve ever wanted to see why Travis and Katrina should not break up, this chapter explains it. The idea of this chapter was more or less “what would happen if…”

    So, read and R&R this meaty beast while I try to cook up another one. (Mmm…suddenly I’m starved.)

    Over and out…

    - EM1
    Last edited by EonMaster One; 29th January 2008 at 9:40 PM.

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  16. #266
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    ...O_O

    Damn.

    This...

    ...was...

    ...the...

    ...best...

    ...chapter...

    ...EH-VAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!

    Ok, grammar check before fanboi rant...

    Crimson claret trickled (and occasionally burst) between Harland’s fingers as they covered and guarded the left side of his face. Singular, icy blue hairs also littered the ground, sprinkled like seasonings amidst the scarlet soup presently seeping into the cinder-covered earth.
    ^Now that was the most poetic description of macabre I’ve ever read!

    [right]…his own, bloodstained hands…[/center]
    Geez… make up your mind! XD!

    "When we were out there, in the forest, I mean,"
    "Travis, what's wrong?" asked Katrina. Travis didn't answer for a second, but then said sadly, "He broke your heart."
    "All four of us would just hate each other, right?" Katrina said. "Nothing would have been solved...but now things are almost set right again,” Travis added. “Once Shiro comes to his senses...”
    You try to carry the world, but what about the people who want to carry you?
    They can't beat the both of us. "Travis turned toward her finally, "So you'll help...no matter how much I try to talk you out of it?"
    I love it! Swordplay, pokemon captures, shipping, best friend brawls... nothing done excessively and yet not done so minimally! A rare work of perfection in the world of fanfiction... but not in the Pokemon Revolution saga! which keeps me coming for more again and again and again!

    Rating:

    ^you earned this five times over!^

    L@er!
    The Corei Quest's latest chapter: Chapter Forty Seven: Tricks of the Trade (24 April 2014)
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    wow, stay away for a while and you reward me with 2 chapters (sorry for the big 2)

    anyway, the remenicsage of those two chappies were amazing, I'd forgotten about Ryuji. Well let's just sat he fell in two places in once.

    I can't really say much right now, maybe later I might give an in depth review about the two but for now all I'll say is...

    You sold me the whole seat. But all I needed was the edge.
    Skogsrå

    Gardenia never liked the Old Chateau, but what if the Old Chateau liked her?

    Author's Profile

  18. #268
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    Jesus Christ, Harland must be a good deal older than Ryuiji (that was the kid ninja, right?), and yet he's still related?

    Anyway, awesome chapter. Reminds the reader a lot of PR:J. Ahhh... nostalgic.

    I actually (surprisingly) have a little bit of criticism to make (the apocalypse is-a coming!). With the battle against the Georyx, I couldn't really picture much description for it.

    Well... that's it. Night, all.
    --Lucarioman777
    I have died.

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    THIS IS NOT A BUMP! I REPEAT, THIS IS NOT A BUMP!

    Just finished some AP sketches...hope i did a better job with Travis this time ^_^

    Voltyger impression

    Volterror impression (tweaked)

    Katrina

    Travis overlooking Rustboro from the entrance of Rusturf Tunnel (Ch 25?)

    You can expect pix of

    Madeline

    Shiro

    Kenjiro

    Reivyn

    Nate

    and maybe pix of Avril, Matthew, Mariah and a Georyx impression before i go back to uni!

    L@er!
    The Corei Quest's latest chapter: Chapter Forty Seven: Tricks of the Trade (24 April 2014)
    PROJECT C-SQUARE STATUS = 100.00% Complete (11-12-2010, ca. 2:40pm GMT)
    HEART OF SEVEN STONES IS ON INDEFINITE HIATUS (REAPED) UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
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    Those pixs look very cool. How long have you been drawing?

    Awesome chapter. The EMOness was rather chocking-it took up a great deal of the chapter-especially since it's mentioned pretty much every chapter. Charecter development for Travis hasn't really happened since about 2/3 into PR:J, when he began to mature into a fierce emotionally driven teenager. Since then, he really hasn't matured much, choosing to wallow in his past mistakes.

    Other than that, I was rather surprised at the beating Shiro took. I realize his opponent was way out of his league, and this is one of his first times fighting a non-robotic opponent, but it was shocking to see him literally slaughtered.

    Anyway, fight scenes were good, and the flashbacks were very well used. Keep it up.

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    Travis will turn a corner soon - very soon.

    As for Shiro, he was sort of caught off guard. Moreover, he was using a weapon he wasn't used to (there's a story behind that weapon that you'll find out later).

    Chapter 28 is maybe about 2/3 done, so expect it up within the next week or so.

    - EM1
    Last edited by EonMaster One; 9th February 2008 at 6:53 AM.

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




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    Default Chapter 28

    Oh...lookee here. I'm four days early. Good stuff. I love writing battle chapters; they finish themselves off so quickly.

    Chapter 28: Pyrokinetic*

    July 4, PA 2013 – Lavaridge Town

    “Good morning, guest. Today is July 4, 2013. Good morning, guest…”

    Up to this point, a small, lavender creature had been slumbering on the ground. No longer. As her ears stood at attention, one of her crystalline eyes emerged from behind its lid…then the other.

    She stood and stretched mightily. By then, her eyes had focused enough for her to be able to take in her surroundings.

    She was standing on a Pokéball-shaped mat in the center of a small room that, in its size and design, rather resembled a dormitory of sorts. There was one chair under one desk nearest the window, where the sun was filtering in and shedding light on the floating specks of dust that tend to cause fits of sneezing when inhaled too deeply. On this desk was a small lamp that was presently turned off. Actually, the lamp’s bulb had blown last night. Oh, well. Room service would probably replace it at some point.

    Next to this lamp was one alarm clock, presently ringing and announcing the date to no human being that was awake to hear it. Next to that desk was a bed, and in that bed was Travis, her Trainer. He was a boy of almost fifteen with hair that was slightly wild at the front and arranged (she knew from memory as she couldn’t really see it) in a neat braid in back. Normally, it would be at about this point or before it that he would roll over in bed and pound the alarm clock into silence. She laughed to herself. As much as he liked to discipline himself to wake rather early in the morning, he considered the actual deed a chore. Ever since he was twelve, he’d had a bad habit of pounding the Pokémon Center’s alarm clocks. He’d actually broken one or two, if she remembered correctly…

    But today, there was no alarm clock pounding. The boy slept on right through the ringing and robotic voice. His late night jaunt through nearly every accessible inch of Lavaridge must have made him much more tired than usual.

    “<Good morning,>” she said sarcastically to the sleeping boy.

    “<Morning,>” another more masculine voice – one that didn’t belong to a human – answered her in a bit of a groan. “<You’re…standing on my back, Angel.>”

    “<Ack!!>” the Espeon screamed, looking down. Sure enough, there was another Pokémon right below her. This was an easy mistake to make, as this Pokémon’s fur was so black that seeing him without good lighting was all but impossible. Realizing who it was, Angel calmed down quickly. “<Crescent? Don’t sleep in the middle of the floor next time. You know no one can see you down there.>”

    “<Whatever,>” Crescent sighed lazily.

    “<’Whatever’,>” Angel mocked him, flopping on top of his back and thereby pinning him to the ground. Applying an affectionate nibble to his nose, she rolled off. Crescent rubbed noses with her, causing her to erupt in wild giggles.

    “Hey, what’s going on….” a mutter from behind them brought the playful greeting to an end. The boy who had been sleeping sat up, took one look at the clock and –

    “Damn it! I overslept!” he groaned, leaping out of bed. “Why didn’t somebody wake me up?”

    “You’re really cute when you’re asleep, but when you’re cranky…not so much,” Travis, along with Angel and Crescent all looked toward the other side of the room. Laying atop a made bed was Katrina, who’d had her nose in some random magazine.

    “Cranky?!” Travis exclaimed. “It’s 8:10! Everybody’s matches are today – everybody! Yours is at 10:30, mine’s at 2:30, and Matt’s got a rematch at….I can’t remember!”

    “8:30,” Katrina answered calmly.

    “WHAT?! That’s twenty minutes!” Travis groaned, grabbing a towel and washcloth haphazardly and heading straight for the bathroom. “You have got to be kidding me!!”

    The door shut. Katrina eyed it for a few moments and then burst into laughter.

    “He took that pretty well, don’t you think?” Katrina asked.

    “<Okay, what time is it really?>” Angel asked.

    Katrina smirked and went back to reading her magazine.

    It was less than five minutes later that Travis emerged from the shower, fully dressed and panicky.

    “What time is it now??” Travis asked.

    “Quarter after seven,” Katrina said nonchalantly.

    “Well, come on! We gotta…whoa…hold on,” Travis stopped yelling after what Katrina said had registered. “What time did you say that it was?”

    “Quarter after eight,” Katrina replied, looking furtively around herself as if Travis had simply misheard her.

    Travis frowned.

    “Wait a second…it’d be lighter than this at quarter after eight,” he muttered to himself. A second or two passed and he looked at Katrina, who responded with the most adorable smile imaginable in an attempt to feign innocence.



    Shiro sat back in the wooden chair in his own room, his eyes gazing out the window. In any city other than Lavaridge, a third-floor room in the Pokémon Center would be considered a “crappy view,” but in Lavaridge, it was just perfect, seeing as Lavaridge was a very flat town. These windows faced the east, where one could just see the sun beginning to come up over Mt. Chimney, which loomed and smoked in the distance.

    A door behind him opened. Shiro’s crimson-crested head turned slightly to find a girl of about fifteen emerging from the bathroom door, clothed in her normal shirt and some new blue jeans that had that faded look about them.

    “That’s good…right?” she asked.

    “Madeline, why do you keep asking me? You know what I’m gonna say,” Shiro commented languidly.

    Madeline rolled her eyes and smiled at him. She approached him and sat down on his knee. Reaching with one of her hands, she played with the boy’s hair.

    “You need to let your hair grow out again,” she said with a measure of certainty. “It was cute long.”

    “It got in my way,” Shiro said, guiding Madeline’s hand away from his forehead. “You know…when I was skating.”

    Madeline nodded appreciatively. “I get it,” she said. “Oh, well. It’s not a bad look…”

    Shiro laughed and Madeline leaned in. Shiro opened his mouth slightly to receive her kiss, when…

    THUMP. THUMP.

    “Ah, shit…” Shiro cursed (practically into Madeline’s mouth). “Room service has the worst timing of anything. Let me get that.”

    “No,” Madeline replied demandingly, tonguing Shiro’s lower lip with an impish smile on her face.

    “Come on – let me get up,” Shiro groaned. Madeline slid off his knees (THUMP) as Shiro got to his feet and crossed the room.

    “Get out here, damn it!!” Shiro heard a voice from the other side of the door. He stopped dead in his tracks and looked back at his girlfriend.

    “…Crap,” he muttered through his teeth. Madeline giggled.

    Slowly, Shiro turned the doorknob and opened the door.

    SMACK.

    He fell backward as a red-and-white sphere bounced into the air. A boy walked inside and caught the ball, minimizing it and slipping it back into his pocket in one fell swoop.

    “So,” Travis said, looking at Shiro, who was on his back and had a large, red marking on his forehead where the ball had hit. “Think it’s funny to screw with someone’s clock when they’re not looking, huh?”

    “Call it even?” Shiro grunted, rubbing his forehead. Travis laughed good-naturedly and helped him up. “Damn. What were you tryin’ to do? Capture me or something?!”

    “Of course not,” Travis replied. “Katrina just said it’d look funny to her if you got hit in the face by a Pokéball.”

    “I wasn’t disappointed, either,” Katrina came into the room, her face red from laughing so hard.

    “Gee, thanks,” Shiro seethed.

    “So, it’s seven-twenty…” Travis muttered. “Breakfast?”

    He looked at all of his friends in turn.

    “Sounds good to me,” Madeline finally spoke up. “Matt and Mariah should be down there with us before long, too.”

    “Yeah,” Shiro replied monosyllabically, nodding.

    “I’d hope so,” Travis replied. “His match is first.”

    “He’s pretty dead set on beating Flannery,” Madeline said. “He won’t miss it.”


    As they walked down the steps together, Angel and Crescent brought up the rear.

    “<Crescent…>” Angel uttered, not at all sounding like her usual confident self. “<I need to talk to you about something.>”

    “<Yeah? What is it?>” Crescent asked nonchalantly. Angel swore mentally. She wished Crescent wouldn’t be so blasé all the time.

    Well, check that – no, she didn’t.

    That was what she loved about him – his ability to be worried about so very little while she worried so very much. At three human years of age, she was fully-grown now, but she could hardly be considered old. Even Crescent, who was a full year older than she was, couldn’t be considered old. She acted a lot older than he did, though. That wasn’t to call him immature…it was just that she used to (and, to a degree, still did) pride herself on her leadership role within the team and her businesslike way of carrying herself.

    She wasn’t like that always.

    When she was very young – when she and Travis had just met, she was vivacious and full of energy…always very brave and confident.

    She felt good about herself.

    When she evolved, she might have become stronger in battle, but she lost a large part of the personality that had endeared her to Travis at first. Part of that was that her evolution happened right before Travis found the sword and the war with Angelos got serious…

    And then she met Crescent.

    He had gone through quite a bit when she had met him, but when he finally got through it (although never quite over it) he became very laid-back. He’d stare at the sky, wondering if his old Trainer…his mother…was watching him from above. He’d daydream all the time, living life with no care in the world until the time came for him to care. That was what she loved about him. He didn’t overthink. He didn’t fret. He was rarely hyper or overly emotional. He wasn’t passive or lazy, just…calm.

    And the thoughts she was having now – now that she had blossomed from an adorable and impetuous Eevee to a beautiful, strong, and elegant Espeon…

    They sent small shivers up her spine and made her smile…

    “<Angel?>” Crescent’s voice broke through her daydream.

    “<Oh!>” Angel exclaimed. “<I was going to ask you…have you ever thought about…never mind. We can talk about it some other time.>”

    Crescent watched Angel through his burgundy eyes. Her face was pink and she wasn’t quite looking at him. She had acted like this before, and it was always when she was on the edge of saying something very important to him. Yet she always wanted to put it off until later…it was almost as if she didn’t really know how to say what she wanted to say to him.

    He frowned.

    <Angel,> he thought, <why won’t you tell me what you’re thinking?>

    <I don’t want to say it in front of everyone else,> Angel’s voice responded in Crescent’s head. <I’m not really ready to tell you today. Today’d be a really bad day to bring it up – we both have battles later.>

    Crescent blinked for a second. He’d forgotten that Angel could communicate telepathically with those with whom she shared a strong bond. Crescent, who wasn’t as good at it by virtue of not being a Psychic-type, concentrated as hard as he could.

    <Will you tell me after we win?> he asked.

    Angel looked at him and wordlessly nodded, a smile flashing over her face.

    “About friggin’ time you got here,” Matt’s voice sounded from the foot of the stairs. There he stood alone, his arms folded. “You’re late!”

    Angel and Crescent emerged from between the humans’ legs and again studied their surroundings. They were standing in what greatly resembled a restaurant, complete with several booths with a yellow and brown motif. This must have been where they were going to eat breakfast…unfortunately.

    <Ugh…> Angel thought to herself. <It’s hideous.>

    “<You’re such a diva sometimes,>” Crescent said aloud, knowing that no one was really paying attention to them.

    “Sorry, Matt,” Travis said, looking over his shoulder. “Shiro decided to screw with my alarm clock last night while I wasn’t looking, so that threw me off a little bit.”

    “It was spur-of-the-moment,” Shiro defended himself with a light smirk. “Besides…look at what I got as payback.”

    He indicated the red knot blossoming on his forehead.

    “You’ve never seen me battle a gym leader live, have you?” Matthew asked. “You’re in for a show.”

    “Confident, are we?” Katrina asked. “So, where’s Mariah?”

    “Oh, she’s gone to get us a table,” the mostly brown-haired boy replied. Looking over his shoulder and seeing an approaching form behind him, he smiled. “There she is.”

    Walking up to them was a girl with black hair. She was wearing a white jacket over a one-piece garment that slightly resembled a cheerleader’s skirt. It was black with pink-and-white trim that slashed across the bottom of the skirt in a zigzag pattern almost like lightning. Katrina recognized it immediately and smirked. Travis’ eyes were more drawn to the creature at her ankles. It was blue, white, and had an extremely round body and ears. Distinctive was its zigzagging tail that ended in a large sphere the same shade of blue as its skin. This creature was hiding – literally hiding – behind Mariah, peeking out curiously every so often and then peeking back.

    “Whoa – was that a Marill?” he asked Mariah.

    “Sure is!” Mariah exclaimed. “She just evolved from Azurill a few days ago.”

    Then, looking down and assuming a voice much like a mother talking to her two-year-old daughter, Mariah asked the Pokémon, “Go on, say hi.”

    “…Rill…” the young Pokémon whimpered monosyllabically, ducking behind Mariah’s legs.

    “She’s very shy,” Mariah explained.

    “She’s adorable!” Katrina squealed, kneeling down to get a better look at the Water-type. The Marill peeked her head out again. Looking up at her owner, Katrina asked, “So, does she have a name?”

    “I called her Mimi,” Mariah answered. “I guess it was kind of random, but when she hatched, that was the first name that came to mind.”

    “So, that’s how you did it?” Katrina asked, standing up and looking at Travis. “We have an egg, too.”

    Travis didn’t seem to be able to remember right off.

    “The one we got from Ivanna, remember?” Katrina said. The light turned on in Travis’ brain and he snapped his finger.

    “Oh, that’s right…wonder what that is? It still seems kinda random that she gave us that egg as a gift,” Travis sighed.

    “Guys….” Matthew was looking at his watch. “That’s all well and good, but, um…we’ve got a good fifteen minutes to eat. My match is at 8:30, remember?”

    “Oh – yeah,” Travis uttered. “Let’s go.”


    Matt stared at his shoes, his brown and blond locks falling messily over his head and neck. He had a full belt of Pokéballs – six Pokémon at his disposal. Depending on which three he chose…he could walk out of this locker room and out of this Gym a winner. If he was wrong…he would lose a second time. That would cost him five days and his ranking among the “Top 60” in Hoenn.

    He could not lose a second time.

    “It’s four-on-four here, right?” he heard Katrina’s voice fade in and out of his mind.

    “Yeah. Do you have four Pokémon?” Travis asked her.

    “Yeah – Magnus, that Georyx I caught the other day, remember?” Katrina’s voice responded. “And you have four – Angel, Champ, Meru, and Raiden.”

    “How many do you have, Matt?” Matt didn’t look up upon hearing Travis’ voice.

    “Six,” he said blankly. “But one or two are weak against Fire-types – I won’t be using them.”

    “Six? You’ve been busy, Matt,” Katrina commented.

    “Yeah,” Matt put on a plastic smile. “Gotta keep working hard if you wanna make it to the League, right?”

    He looked down again. He felt two hands on his shoulders.

    “How are you feeling?” This time, the person speaking – a girl with black hair – got right down to his level. Matt felt a hand on each shoulder, and looked into another pair of green, almond-shaped eyes.

    “Like my breakfast wants out,” Matt muttered weakly.

    “Why are you nervous?” Mariah asked.

    “I can’t lose again,” he muttered so the others couldn’t hear him. “No way can I lose again…”

    “You’re not going to lose,” Mariah reassured him. “Not if you go back out there with everything you have.”

    “Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s half-past-eight here in Lavaridge and you know what that means!!” an announcer’s voice came through the PA system. Matt whirled around along with everyone else. Shiro, who had dozed off while leaning against the wall, stood to unravel his full five-foot-eleven height and strode up alongside the bench where Matt was sitting. They were all looking up at the huge plasma television hanging from the ceiling, where a tunnel was being displayed. “The only thing as hot as her is her Fire-type assault! It’s Lavaridge’s own – the ‘Pyro Princess’ – FLANNERY!”

    A young woman that looked like she could be in her early twenties emerged from the smoking tunnel, dressed in a short, black tanktop that seemed to have a flame in its center. Her pants were jeans. Most noticeable was her hair, which was tied back but still very wild. Her flaming-red hair was highlighted rather intentionally with streaks of blonde, giving the impression that her head was on fire.

    “Um...your mom doesn’t have any Gym Leader relatives, does she?” Shiro asked Katrina, whose mother had a rather similar color scheme in her hair.

    “My mom’s a natural blonde, thank you very much,” Katrina said with an assumed haughtiness. “She looks like she could pass for a member of your family, though…”

    (Many members of the Blackthorn family, including Shiro himself, had been known for their distinctive shade of red hair.)

    “Looks like you’re up,” Travis commented to Matthew, who nodded and stood, starting toward the metal door that led out to the challenger’s entrance.

    “Matt!” Madeline shouted. The boy turned around as she approached him at a bit of a run, almost as if she had just now remembered something. She pulled something from her pocket and balled it into a fist. She put this fist into Matthew’s open hand. “You dropped this…the other day.”

    Matt opened his hand. Sitting inside his palm was a silver necklace with a Pidgeot charm.

    “You’re still wearing this, huh?” Madeline asked.

    “Every day,” Matthew said, throwing the necklace over his head once again. His own green eyes looked meaningfully into those of his twin. He smiled and turned toward the girl that was standing right next to the door. Silently, she put her arms around him.

    “Good luck, Matt…” Mariah whispered.

    “Thanks,” Matt replied quietly. Mariah pulled back from him and cupped his face with one of her palms. He lightly kissed her hand and whispered into her ear before opening the door and then disappearing through it as it slammed shut behind him. Mariah, meanwhile, held on to her hand in a way like she had just been touched by some important person. On a bench on the other side of the room, she sat down, obviously tearing up.

    “What did he say to you?” Katrina asked, having been the first to notice her. Mariah looked up and, indeed, her eyes were brimming.

    She wiped them, gave a slight sniffle, and said, “He told me that he loves me.”

    “Uh…” Shiro piped in. “Maybe I’m missing something here, but isn’t he your boyfriend?”

    Mariah nodded. “Well, he asked me out, and I said yes. Then he asked me to come here with him, and I said yes again…but he’d never said that to me before. I think he was scared…scared that if he told me that he loved me, I’d leave or something would happen to me.”

    “Oh, right…that’s something different, I guess…” Shiro muttered, sounding put out.



    Matthew stood in the challenger’s box as the referee (as most of the referees looked similar, he wondered if they all had a common name like the Nurse Joys – like Umpire Bob or something. That was random – moving on…) recited the rules rather robotically. Matt couldn’t say that he blamed the guy. The gym opens for seating at eight sharp, meaning that the majority of the staff that run the place have to be there by no later than seven, which means that this guy probably woke up somewhere in the neighborhood of six – maybe slightly later, if he lived close.

    He heard the phrase, “Each trainer will use three Pokémon.” Simple selection strategies began chasing their way around his head. Matthew wondered for a second what Travis’ mind was thinking at a time like this, right before the battle was to start. Matthew’s aptitude for strategy had been acquired. On the other hand, in Matt’s estimation, Travis was (and the latter would humbly disagree if this was said in front of him) nothing short of a genius. Sure, his Pokémon were powerful – but he could probably win with less firepower because he flat knew how to outwit his opponents.

    Matthew would have to think like him if he was going to beat him…

    But in order to have the chance to beat him…he would have to beat Flannery.

    “Let’s go! Torkoal!” Flannery threw a Pokéball skyward. It bounded off the stadium floor and opened in a flash of brilliant, white light to reveal a Pokémon that looked rather like a dim-looking tortoise. Its body was a dull orange and its hard shell seemed to be smoking at the back.

    “We ran into one of those earlier,” Katrina commented as she watched the match’s opening unfold on the large screen in the locker room.

    “Tripped over it is more like it,” Travis muttered. “My backside still hurts…”

    “Alright…” Matt sighed. “Go, Grumpig!!”

    Seconds later, the purple, pig-like creature emerged from her Pokéball, squealing aggressively at her Fire-type opponent.

    Flannery smiled with amusement.

    “Use Psywave, Grumpig!” Matt ordered with an emphatic gesture. Grumpig’s eyes began to glow a bright blue and amorphous waves of Psychic energy began to pour forth from the black pearls on her forehead. Torkoal staggered and groaned under the attack.

    “Fire Spin, NOW!” Flannery responded. Torkoal stepped forward and a stream of flame issued forth from his mouth, wrapping around Grumpig and forming a funnel of pure fire.

    “Uh-oh…” Travis uttered as he watched the screen.

    “Grumpig’s gonna get roasted!” Shiro echoed. A blue glow was visible in the midst of the firestorm. It grew brighter and brighter, until…

    The fire dissipated around it, leaving only a dome of energy surrounding where Grumpig had been standing seconds before.

    “Psywave again!!” Matt shouted with conviction as he watched the attack being executed.

    Torkoal staggered.

    “Psybeam!” Grumpig focused the dome of energy around herself into one small point right at her forehead. The blue became a prism of just about every red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet known to man. With a BANG, it shot forth from Grumpig’s head, striking the slow Torkoal dead-on.

    Torkoal skidded backward and looked up at Grumpig, his eyes rather unfocused.

    “Use Flamethrower!” Flannery ordered! Torkoal’s eyes lit up. He looked straight at Grumpig…and then looked down.

    WHOOSH.

    In an instant, he had covered himself in white-hot flames – flames too hot even for him to handle. He teetered backward and forward, trying to find some way out of the fire. After about seven seconds, he went down.

    “Piece of cake,” Matt muttered to himself.

    “<Did I overdo it?>” Grumpig asked, a pudgy hand over her own mouth in the manner of a precocious little child.

    “Torkoal can’t move worth a damn,” Shiro commented as the referee began to count Torkoal out. “I mean, that is one slooooooooooooooooooooooow Pokémon.”

    “Well, that battle sure wasn’t slow,” Katrina replied. “At that rate, the match will be done in about ten minutes, tops.”

    Matt stared down Flannery, who reached for a second Pokéball.

    “Alright, then…go, Vulpix!” Flannery shouted. From this Pokéball emerged a fox-like creature with gem-like eyes a bit similar to those of an Espeon, except tinged amber. The Fox Pokémon had no less than six tails sprouting from her rear end – the defining characteristic that makes Vulpix easy to sort out from any Pokémon.

    “What? It was Magcargo before…great,” Matt muttered sarcastically.

    “<Is this a problem?>” Grumpig asked curiously.

    “Depends,” Matthew answered with a grimace.

    “Vulpix, use Quick Attack!” Flannery shouted. Vulpix took off in a blaze of white as Grumpig held her position.

    “Dodge left and use Psywave!” Matt shouted. Grumpig followed this order as Vulpix skidded to a stop, turned on a dime, and propelled herself at the Psychic-type. Right before the attack landed, a ring of blue emanated from the black pearls on Grumpig’s head and blew Flannery’s Vulpix cross-stadium.

    “Nice shot!” Madeline shouted. As Vulpix hit the center of the arena at a roll, Matthew pulled out of his crouch and pointed straight at Vulpix.

    “Grumpig, use Psybeam!” he shouted.

    “Vulpix, Flamethrower!” Flannery yelled in response.

    A rainbow-colored ray of Psychic energy and a stream of white-hot flame collided in the center of the arena.

    “He’s spent days training that Grumpig,” Mariah commented.

    “Yeah – apparently,” Shiro answered. The two attacks continued to struggle against each other until, finally, one gave out…and it wasn’t the Flamethrower…

    Grumpig was overtaken by a stream of flame as she squealed in pain, the fire eating away painfully at her flesh. As the flames ceased, Grumpig began to tilt backward, ever so slowly…

    WHAM.

    She was knocked onto her back by Vulpix’s Quick Attack, as the Fox Pokémon bounced off Grumpig’s wide body, leaving a bruise noticeable even among all the burns that peppered her black-and-violet body.

    “What happened??” Madeline asked, sounding quite worried.

    “Grumpig ran out of energy,” Travis said. “She was tired from the battle with Torkoal.”

    “What’s Matt gonna come up with now??” Katrina asked.

    They got their answer in the form of a black, dog-like creature. He barked loudly at Vulpix, who stepped back, appearing to be slightly afraid of the large Bite Pokémon.

    “Mightyena…” Travis muttered.

    “<Tch…a small fry…>” Mightyena muttered lazily as he lowered his body – a telltale signal of an impending attack.

    “Vulpix, use Quick Attack!” Flannery shouted. Vulpix took off after Mightyena after a slight hesitation. That second’s hesitation was all Matt and Mightyena needed.

    “Bite!” Mightyena ran out to meet Vulpix and, as the Pokémon leapt toward him, grabbed her in his jaws and clamped down. Vulpix uttered a high-pitched squeal of pain as she was thrown away. For the second time, she rolled back toward Flannery, leaving a thin trail of red on her way this time.

    Mariah put her hand to her mouth.

    “Brutal…” Shiro croaked in shock.

    Vulpix staggered to her feet. The crowd erupted into cheers.

    “Finish her off,” Matt ordered calmly. “Shadow Ball.”

    “<Bye-bye, chickadee. It’s been fun,>” Mightyena growled as he opened his mouth to reveal a black blob of dark energy. With a loud, vicious howl, he released it right at the small Fox Pokémon. Achieving a bit of a second wind, Vulpix jumped left and rushed.

    “Still got some fight left, huh? Tackle, Mightyena!” Matt shouted. Mightyena lowered his slate-grey body to the ground. His back fur, as black as the darkest night in hell, stood on end as he released a monstrous growl and charged. His red-and-yellow eyes locked in on the small Fox Pokémon as he prepared for the final blow…

    But it never happened.

    All at once, Vulpix jumped off to the left, causing Mightyena to lunge horribly and crash in spectacular fashion in the center of the arena – face-first into the ground.

    “And…Mightyena takes a header into the stadium floor!” The announcer’s voice blared through the speakers next to the high-definition television as Travis and the others watched the match unfold on this screen. Mariah clutched her chest as Shiro and Madeline sat on the edge of the bench. “Is the tide of this battle beginning to turn?”

    Mightyena rolled to his feet and took a vicious shot to the flank from Vulpix, falling to the ground immediately afterward.

    “Shoot,” Matthew groaned. “Mightyena, come on! Shadow Ball!”

    Watching the inverted figure of Vulpix from his back, Mightyena belched forth a dark sphere of energy. Vulpix dodged right as Mightyena rolled to his feet and fired another. Vulpix leapt left and continued advancing. Then, she jumped straight up.

    “Flamethrower!!” Flannery roared.

    Vulpix somersaulted in midair, skidded to a stop behind Mightyena, and let loose a red-and-white stream of fire.

    Mightyena evaded the flames just barely, and released yet another Shadow Ball. This one hit its mark, exploding in a cloud of black as Vulpix’s screech was drowned out by a thunderous BANG.

    The corner of Matt’s mouth curled upward into a smirk.

    “That’s all she wrote,” he said confidently.

    The smoke and dust eventually settled to reveal a wounded Vulpix, sprawled on the arena floor, her amber skin blossoming with bruises, cuts, and scrapes, and the bite marks from the initial attack prominent above anything else.

    “Finally,” Mariah sighed, sitting back.

    “That was ridiculous,” Shiro commented.

    “<Man, was that a chore, or what?>” Mightyena barked while catching a breather.

    “That battle lasted about five minutes longer than it was supposed to,” Matthew muttered, shaking his head in disapproval.

    Meanwhile, in the locker room, Mariah appeared nervous.

    “Here we go…” she muttered in nearly a whisper. It was loud enough, however, to catch Madeline’s attention.

    “Something wrong?” the brunette asked.

    “Flannery had one Pokémon Matt couldn’t beat last time,” Mariah answered.

    Flannery had cupped her chin with her fingers. “Hmm…what to do here…?”

    “Bring him out,” Matthew said clearly and loudly enough for the Gym Leader to hear him. “I know you’re gonna use him anyway – bring it on.”

    “You sure? I was thinking of something a little easier for you to handle, maybe…” Flannery replied.

    “If I don’t beat your best, I don’t deserve the badge, do I?” Matt answered sharply, his temper rising. “Bring – him – out.”

    “Okay, fine…your funeral,” Flannery replied, taking one last Pokéball and chucking it into the air. As it rotated – red over white over red over white – it opened and shot forth a bright, amorphous light onto the ground. This light arranged itself into the outline of a form that appeared to stand a bit short of four feet in height, and then faded to reveal a Pokémon. This reptilian creature was an angrier shade of crimson even than Shiro’s hair. He bore a cream-colored underbelly and from his red hands protruded short, white claws. He snarled, baring several white fangs that looked like the ends of daggers erupting forth from his dangerous-looking maw. He waved his muscular-looking tail around in aggression, fanning its crackling, golden-red flame in the air.

    “That’s a Charmeleon,” Shiro said, sounding like he was in awe. “Holy crap…”

    With a horrific roar, the blood-red lizard raised his eyes to the heavens and exhaled a fireball from deep in his throat in a show of his power.

    Mightyena wasn’t intimidated.

    “<That the best you got?>” he snarled, lowering his body to attack. Charmeleon responded with an angry point of one of his clawed fingers, straight at the large, black Bite Pokémon.

    “This time…” Matt growled through his teeth, his mouth looking nearly as ferocious as his own Pokémon’s. “You’re going down.”

    “BEGIN!” the referee shouted, signaling the resumption of battle.

    “Mightyena, use Tackle!” Matt shouted aggressively as soon as the flags went up.

    “Scratch!” Flannery yelled immediately afterward.

    Mightyena, running on four legs, and Charmeleon, covering just as much ground on two, approached each other in the center of the arena.

    Mightyena lowered his head.

    Charmeleon raised his claw.

    The exchange of attacks happened all at once. Mightyena bashed Charmeleon, causing him to flip over. The Flame Pokémon, however, managed to dig one of his razor sharp claws into Mightyena’s back at the point of impact, taking with him a chunk of fur and flesh. Mightyena snarled as he whirled around, his black fur now matted…

    Charmeleon stood and uttered a deep, rather unhinged growl as he released a few dog hairs from his left hand, revealing claws that were every bit as red as his own skin.

    “Charmeleon, Rage,” Flannery commanded. The flame on Charmeleon’s crimson tail sprang to life as the reptilian creature ran at Mightyena, both claws glowing.

    WHAM.

    Mightyena howled as Charmeleon tore into his muzzle with a trio of razor-sharp claws, leaving an obvious scar. Mightyena whirled around as Charmeleon came back for a second pass.

    “Bite!” Matthew ordered quickly as Flannery’s Pokémon approached his. Mightyena clamped down on Charmeleon’s incoming hand and flung the lizard-like Flame Pokémon high into the air. Charmeleon performed a long, looping somersault and landed behind Mightyena, skidding to a stop. The flame on his tail swelled, whitened, and then burned with a mixture of blue and white like a clouded sky.

    “Now you’ve got him ****** off,” Flannery commented apologetically. “Charmeleon, Fire Blast!”

    Charmeleon opened his mouth. A strange symbol could be seen through his white belly. The back of Charmeleon’s draconian throat began to throw rays of blue light forward from his mouth. Then, the symbol that Matt had seen on Charmeleon’s belly appeared, burning, blue, and larger than himself, in the air. Before Matt could issue an attack order, the strange flaming symbol was shot forth. It hit the unprepared Mightyena dead on, erupting in a literal funnel cloud of combustion as a noise almost like thunder rocked the Lavaridge Arena.

    Travis and the others looked on in horror at the sight – a tornado of pure fire at one side of the arena, with Matt’s Mightyena inside and most likely being completely consumed.

    “Oh, boy. That’s not good,” Shiro said rather understatedly.

    “You’re right, that’s not good,” Travis replied.

    Mariah and Madeline simply looked on in silence.

    The flames finally died, leaving a blackened Mightyena (if it is possible for a Mightyena to be blackened any more than they start) sprawled out on the gym floor.

    “Geez…” Shiro intoned. “That’s like one of those movies when you see something get blown up so quick, only its shadow’s left.”

    “Thanks for that beautiful description,” Katrina muttered sarcastically. “It’s just lucky for Matt that Mightyena survived that attack.”

    Matt returned Mightyena, the smile never leaving his face.

    Somehow, he knew it would come down to this.

    “Combusken!” Matt’s cry echoed to the heavens as he threw the sphere containing his last, best hope into the air. It burst open and released the three-foot-tall creature onto the ground. Charmeleon, who had spent the last several moments on Flannery’s side of the field looking bored, let out a growl of intrigue as he registered a familiar opponent.

    “<You just don’t know when to give up, do you?>” the Charmeleon finally said something intelligible, although it was in the most savage and feral of tones. Matt immediately got the feeling that this Charmeleon was so bloodthirsty that he could battle just as effectively and probably more brutally if Flannery were to keep herself silent.

    That said, Combusken wasn’t intimidated.

    The Young Fowl Pokémon was shaking head to toe for a different reason.

    “Scratch attack!” Flannery gave the first order, and Charmeleon charged, exhaling tiny jets of smoke from his nostrils like a bull ready to gore the unlucky man waving the red towel.

    Combusken didn’t wait for an order. His fist clenched and he rushed, snarling madly. He was so quick that before Charmeleon could even swing his arm, the Young Fowl Pokémon had a fist under his chin. Charmeleon reeled as Combusken followed up with a second punch, connecting with Charmeleon’s right jaw.

    A flurry of punches followed these first two, each increasing in accuracy and precision.

    A loud CRACK was heard as the last blow was dealt – a crushing hook to the side of Charmeleon’s head – and the red reptile fell to the ground, his equilibrium undone.

    Combusken jumped backward, conjuring fireballs in his hands.

    “<Get up!>” he roared, his eyes blazing with battle rage. “<Is that it?!>”

    Charmeleon struggled to his feet and snarled.

    “Combusken! Meteor Ball!” Matt shouted. Combusken reared back with each arm, casting a ball of white-and-red flame at Charmeleon, who easily dodged both and closed in on Combusken, his claws raised.

    “Scratch again, Charmeleon!” Flannery yelled.

    “Scratch, Combusken!” Matt shouted in response. Combusken raised a claw as well.

    With the sound of clashing swords, these two Scratch attacks met each other, each rendering the other ineffective. Charmeleon kept clawing, causing Combusken to employ all kinds of ducks, dodges, and bodily contortions to avoid the razor-sharp nails. Once Combusken put enough distance between himself and Charmeleon for him to return, he did. Charmeleon blocked his first strike and his second, then dodged his third.

    “Double Kick!” Matt yelled, his green eyes flashing.

    Combusken laid a fist into Charmeleon’s gut, causing the lizard-like monster to belch a fireball innocuously onto the ground below as he reeled backward. He looked up and saw his opponent leap into his field of vision.

    Charmeleon roared because of the pain in his chest as Combusken floated in the air, and then rotated…

    A vicious kick to the side of the head sent Charmeleon flying.

    “<We won’t lose to you again,>” Combusken announced as his body erupted into flames.

    “Take him out!” Matt shouted. “Double Kick again!”

    Combusken took off on a beeline straight at the Flame Pokémon, positioning his feet in order to execute an attack easily. Combusken raised one foot and brought it up toward Charmeleon’s torso. The latter grabbed it with both hands and, right as Combusken leapt for the follow-up attack, violently twisted it, sending Combusken into a wild pirouette of sorts. From this spin, Combusken extended one leg, connecting with Charmeleon’s shoulder and sending him reeling. Combusken pulled out of his barrel roll, landed gracefully on the ground, and charged.

    A wild swing meant to leave a deep gash on Charmeleon’s face missed. Charmeleon managed to evade the second swipe as well as the third. On the fourth, Charmeleon mustered the wherewithal to grab hold of Combusken’s arm, leaving each combatant with one free hand. Charmeleon used his first, driving his dagger-sharp claws into Combusken’s torso and then tearing left viciously, leaving a long and nasty series of slashes across Combusken’s stomach as a crimson mist rose from the area. Charmeleon’s second claw attack connected with Combusken’s face, leaving a few scars. Although not ordered and not accustomed to doing so, Charmeleon lowered his head right into Combusken’s chest, sending him a step backwards, flailing and shouting.

    A second was all Charmeleon needed.

    “Ember!” the red-haired Gym trainer called. Charmeleon raised his head and began to lay into his opponent with salvo after salvo of fiery shot. Combusken leapt into the air, performing a looping back flip and landing closer to Matt, obviously winded, tired, and wounded.

    It was time for Flannery to get a shot at bringing this match to a quick end.

    “Crush him!” Flannery shouted. “Overheat!!”

    Between Charmeleon’s deep inhaling and the collective gasp of the crowd, it was a miracle that the arena was not emptied of air completely. The flame on Charmeleon’s tail began to glow a brilliant blue as a huge ball of alabaster flame burst forth from the creature’s dragon-like maw, aimed directly at Combusken with murderous intentions.

    “Oh, man!” Shiro shouted. “They’re both gonna get roasted!”

    “Matt!” Madeline shouted at the screen worriedly.

    “Hope this works…” Matt muttered. “Combusken, ready Fire Punch!”

    Combusken clenched one fist as the huge ball of flames approached him, swelling and licking at the air like a small sun. Combusken’s hands began to glow red as the ball of energy sped up and approached the Young Fowl Pokémon.

    “What the hell?!” Shiro yelled. “Matt’s about to get his Combusken killed!”

    “What…?” Travis muttered, looking at the screen with intrigue.

    “What happened?” Katrina asked. “Do you know what he’s about to do?”

    “This might be crazy enough to actually work…” Travis commented.

    Combusken’s hands hit the burning sphere. Matt didn’t flinch as the Young Fowl Pokémon grunted with the effort of keeping the crackling, flaming ball backward. After a few seconds, the ball began to shrink.

    “Hey, hey – what’s going on?” Katrina asked.

    “I think he’s absorbing it,” Travis replied, gazing at the large screen with intrigue in his azure eyes.

    Finally, the sphere of flame had disappeared into nothingness. Combusken’s hands were glowing a bright white.

    “Someone’s about to get crushed – it’s not us,” Matt stood straight, a smile on his face. “Fire Punch!”

    With a terrible cry, Combusken tore across the arena, the energy of alabaster flame trailing behind him as if he were holding two comets in his hand. As he approached Charmeleon, the latter’s tail flame went sapphire once again as he performed a throat slash taunt, then charged with a feral growl, his own arms raised in attack.

    Charmeleon’s claw never got there.

    It was like a half-ton of dynamite had gone off in the Lavaridge Arena, so great was the explosion and resulting cloud of dust.

    “Geez, dude!” Shiro shouted loudly, standing up and boring his eyes into the screen. “What the hell happened?”

    “Simple math, actually,” Travis said. “Overheat plus Fire Punch equals…bang.”

    “You’re right, ‘bang’,” Katrina said, her pupils disappearing in shock. “Is either of them left standing?”

    “We’re gonna find out soon,” Travis replied. As if on cue, the dust began to settle. The scene that was left was astounding – Combusken’s fist was leaning against the jaw of a burned and blackened Charmeleon. The latter’s tail flame had dimmed, but not quite to dangerous levels. Combusken withdrew his arm, and the crimson lizard buckled at last, falling face-first as if bowing prostrate to his victorious opponent. The referee began to count but Flannery raised her hand to stop him, recognizing as all the other witnesses did, that there really was no need.

    The referee nodded.

    “Charmeleon is unable to continue!” he shouted, pointing the challenger’s red flag in Matthew’s direction. “The winner is Combusken. The match goes to the challenger, Matthew Marius from Cherrygrove City, Johto!”

    “Good work, Combusken. Return!” Matt shouted, calling the Fire-type back to his ball and walking to the center of the arena to meet Flannery.

    “Not bad,” Shiro commented. “There was one time I said that Matt didn’t have any balls. Looks like he went out and got some.”

    “He’s motivated,” Katrina remarked. “I know it’s got something to do with what happened to…”

    She stopped suddenly, realizing that Madeline was in the room, and turned toward the brunette, wondering if she’d been too insensitive.

    “You’re right,” Madeline said. “Part of it is a good motivation – he wants to become Champion because Xavier never got the chance to. But, part of it…I’m not sure if he knows he has anyone left in this world. I mean, our father left us, our mother neglected us, our brother and sister are dead...Matt hates talking about our family so much that I never got the chance to tell him –”

    She stopped for a moment as she heard the door open. Standing there was Matthew, whose skullcap was off and whose brown-and-golden hair was all over the place, making him appear even more tired and haggard. He looked up and flashed a brief smile to those around him. It appeared, though, as if he only had eyes for one person in the small locker room.

    He strode past Travis and the others, past two junior Trainers going the other way to stage an exhibition battle outside in the stadium, and right to a black-haired girl sitting down a ways off. She sprang to her feet and hugged the boy around his neck.

    “We won,” he said hoarsely and rather solemnly to her.

    Just as they ceased their embrace, Madeline approached them.

    “Can I talk to you?” she asked.

    Matt drew in a breath and then turned around.

    “What is it?” he asked her.

    “You remember I said Dad got remarried, right?” she said rather nervously. “I was waiting for the right time to let you know this, but…”

    “Something you didn’t tell me about?” Matt asked, as if he really wouldn’t have cared one way or the other. “He’s drinking, too? Is that it?”

    “It’s about why Dad really wanted you to come to see him,” Madeline replied. “He heard about what happened.”

    “What’d he care? He didn’t like Xavier and Yoshina, anyway,” Matt said. “He blamed them as much as he blamed Taylor.”

    “This…is going nowhere,” Madeline said. “We’re just going to stand here and argue until we both get flustered and embarrass ourselves in front of our friends – and I’m trying to give you good news! At least, I think it – she – is good news.”

    “She?” Matt repeated.

    Shiro, Katrina, and Travis all exchanged looks with each other.

    “I’ll just have to show you,” Madeline sighed, reaching into her pocket. She passed something to Matt, who looked it over for a moment as he stepped into the middle of the room, followed closely by Mariah, who was right on his heels. After a few moments, Travis and the others approached Matt, all to try to get a look at the picture.

    What they saw was a picture of a female toddler – easily two years old, perhaps maybe three – with a head of naturally curly, honey blonde hair that was rather long for her age. Her eyes, with their long lashes, were bright and inquisitive with irises of a deep turquoise. She was smiling broadly, holding a pail and bucket that were both colored a bright primary red, as she stood upon a mound of sand in her one-piece bathing suit, which depicted a sunny sky peppered with a few fair-weather clouds over the water. Looking at the picture, Travis could have sworn that some of the little girl’s features looked familiar…

    “Adorable, isn’t she?” Madeline commented fondly.

    “Who is she?” Matthew asked. Madeline took a deep breath, as if she was about to make a bombshell of an announcement.

    “That’s Veronica Nevaeh,” she said clearly. “She’s three-and-a-half…and she’s our little sister.”

    Matt, along with everyone else in the room, looked up at the same time.
    Last edited by EonMaster One; 13th February 2008 at 5:07 AM.

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  23. #273
    Join Date
    May 2005
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    Maryland
    Posts
    1,058

    Default Chapter 28-2

    ~~~ *** ~~~

    Kenjiro paced the small Pokémon Center room. Reivyn, sitting on the bed, watched him with curious, silver eyes.

    “I can’t let you,” the young man finally sighed, turning around to look at her.

    “Why not?” Reivyn asked. “I can hold my own in a fight now – why can’t I go?”

    “I know, I know…” Kenjiro muttered. “You’re strong – probably stronger than me, if you lasted as long against Darris as you say you did…but he nearly killed you last time. I can’t let that happen again because you might not have anyone to bail you out.”

    “But this isn’t about Darris – he could get us here if he wanted to,” Reivyn said. “I want to know why you’re so interested in going back to the Prince.”

    Kenjiro sighed.

    “The more I fight,” he explained. “The more I realize that I need to be fighting for something. Hoenn could be a beautiful place for people like you if it’s peaceful. Plus…I just have this strange feeling that the war and the Temple are gonna be connected somehow, if they aren’t already. I feel useless. Travis and the others don’t really need us anymore – he’s got his purpose, but what the hell’s mine?”

    Reivyn remained silent.

    “Elrik really needs fighters more than spies,” Kenjiro said. “If I can help in some way, it’ll speed up the process of him taking the throne. Then, we can deal with the Temple.”

    “So, your mind’s made up?” Reivyn finally said. “You’re going to help him fight?”

    “Yeah…so…” Kenjiro said. “I’m leaving…tonight.”

    Reivyn frowned. Kenjiro sat down on Reivyn’s bed and lightly put his hand on the girl’s shoulder. As of now, the top half of her was clothed only in a reddish tube top that looked to be the remains of a shirt after months of battling and travel over rough terrain. After she gasped a bit, Kenjiro looked down at her face, withdrawing his hand slightly.

    “No…” she gasped.

    “I’m sorry…I forgot…” he muttered.

    “No, I mean…don’t stop,” she whispered, sounding a little unsure of herself.

    “You’re not afraid?” Kenjiro asked.

    “No,” she responded, leaning on him so he could hold her. He did so, around the bare part of her back…and found that she didn’t mind at all. “It’s you, after all.”


    The three Mystics stood on a hill overlooking a city, newly fortified with troops clad in green and silver. The fortifications had sprung up almost overnight.

    “Shit,” the tallest of the three, a red-haired man, swore. “We’ll have a hell of a time trying to get in there with all of those guards.”

    “Why the hell are we wasting our time here when we know where the sword is?” another asked. He had icy-blue hair and, most notably, an eyepatch over his right eye. “I want him…I want to kill him. I want to make him pay.”

    “Please, Reiko – be realistic,” the red-haired man groaned. “You’re damn lucky we got there when we did – otherwise…”

    He drew a thumb emphatically across his own throat to demonstrate his point.

    “But if you want to try again, go ahead,” the redhead said airily. “I won’t be there to save your *** this time around.”

    “Fine, I get the point,” the blue-haired Mystic groaned. “And the name’s ‘Harland’.”

    “Fine – since you’re feeling so cocky today, why don’t you do the honors of gathering information?” the red-haired man requested.

    “I’m not your friggin’ slave, Darris,” Harland snarled.

    “No…but you make our job a hell of a lot easier if you play your role,” Darris said.

    Harland growled and then disappeared.

    Darris sighed. The third Mystic – a young woman with dark skin and blonde hair, took this opportunity to speak.

    “Darris…” she sighed. “I know you and Harland don’t get along, but…he brought up a good question. Why are we here?”

    “You, too, Kilara?” Darris groaned. “Look…the truth is, I don’t know. I just have a feeling something big is about to happen. All signs point to a battle, but I don’t know for sure. All I know is that, if I can get my hands on one of those swords…not necessarily all three – just one…”

    “Darris…” Kilara confessed. “I’m scared.”

    “Now, come on,” Darris said with the tiniest hint of a laugh, putting his arms around the young woman and looking a bit like the older brother figure he had been ten years ago, when he as a young disciple of the Way of the Three Gates, rescued Kilara from that orphanage in the faraway continent of Carona and took her under his wing. “There’s no need to be afraid. I haven’t let you down in ten years and I won’t start now.”

    “No, it’s not that,” Kilara said. “You’re changing.”

    “Changing?” Darris repeated. “Well, of course. We’re not kids anymore. Those days…they were fun, yeah, but…we have to move on. I’m sick of being an outcast from society – of people treating us like we don’t deserve to be alive. We’ve both grown – stronger and, in your case…”

    Kilara looked up.

    “…beautiful,” Darris finished. Kilara felt her face grow hot as a faint pink tinged her cheeks.

    “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you,” Kilara said. “That’s why, if I lose you, I’ll…”

    Darris put a finger to her lips and stilled her.

    “It’s a good thing I’m not going anywhere, then, isn’t it?” he replied.

    Kilara smiled broadly. Darris dotingly jammed his own fedora over Kilara’s eyes, to which the young woman responded by revealing those baby-blue irises again and giggling.

    Their love was a strange thing. Darris recognized it – they were like more than a brother and sister…but maybe not quite lovers. Something in the middle, if there was such a thing.

    But something had to give. Just like Darris could feel the tension rising here in northwestern Hoenn, he could feel Kilara coming ever closer to him, and he knew that the day may someday come – maybe soon – that she would be ready to give her love to him in a different way.

    And he, just as much, had to be ready to accept it.

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




  24. #274
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    May 2006
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    wow, I didn't really expect anything at 9:30 in the morning, but I had to check.

    Matt's battle was great. At first it was like, "Grumpig Psywave. Torkoal Fire Spin. Grumpig Psywave" in a sense. But you finally got it moving, there was one part that didnt make sense though. Yeah I'm too lazy to quote it.



    Torkoal skidded backward and looked up at Grumpig, his eyes rather unfocused.

    “Use Flamethrower!” Flannery ordered! Torkoal’s eyes lit up. He looked straight at Grumpig…and then looked down.

    WHOOSH.

    In an instant, he had covered himself in white-hot flames – flames too hot even for him to handle. He teetered backward and forward, trying to find some way out of the fire. After about seven seconds, he went down.

    “Piece of cake,” Matt muttered to himself.

    “<Did I overdo it?>” Grumpig asked, a pudgy hand over her own mouth in the manner of a precocious little child.


    Whose doing the Flamethrowering, it doesn't make sense that Torkoal would use it and then lose, and grumpig didn't get ordered to use a countering manouver.

    That was the only bit that bugged me however, the rest was great

    AND... Matt and Madeline have a little step-sister. Coolio, for them anyway
    Skogsrå

    Gardenia never liked the Old Chateau, but what if the Old Chateau liked her?

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  25. #275
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Maryland
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    1,058

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    Torkoal roasted himself.

    Psybeam has a chance of causing confusion, which it did. I tried to get that fact across without having someone say, "Torkoal's confused - Holy crap." I think that's cheesy.

    Dalton Gregg was a mostly-ordinary university student from the region once called Johto.
    Then a fateful encounter set him on a quest to change history.




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